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Andrea Óhidy: The Role of the ´Roma Community Cultural Capital´ in the Successful Educational Careers of Roma and Gypsy Women – Findings From a Qualitative Study

Roma and Gypsy women in Europe suffer from multiple deprivation (Council of the European Union, 2011). Firstly, a large part of Roma and Gypsy people live in poverty. Secondly, their divergent cultural/ethnic traditions often lead to discrimination in school education. Thirdly, they also have disadvantages through the gender aspect because the traditional Roma/Gypsy culture defines a woman’s place in the family, which does not necessitate an educational career (Forray & Hegedűs, 2003; Durst, 2015). This is why Roma and Gypsy women are often called the ‘minority within the minority’ (Vincze, 2010, p. 195). Despite this multiple deprivation, Roma and Gypsy women are ever more successful in the education system – and not only in Hungary (Forray & Hegedűs, 1991) – and they are playing an increasing part in politics as well (Bakó & Tóth, 2008; Kóczé, 2010). The research study focuses on Roma and Gypsy women who have come from a background of multiple deprivation but have achieved successful educational careers (defined by their university degree). To answer the research question: Which factors are regarded as beneficial for success in education from the perspective of Roma and Gypsy women?, I chose the method of biographical narrative interviews. Additionally, I analysed statistical and empirical studies and used expert interviews as well. The aim of the research was to ascertain the subjective theories of the interviewees. The respondents were selected with the snowball system. The analysis of the interviews was based on the methodology developed by Fritz Schütze (Schütze, 1983). The underclass theory developed by William Julius Wilson (Wilson, 1978, 1987), as adapted by Iván Szelényi and János Ladányi for the Hungarian context (Ladányi & Szelényi, 2004), and the theory posited by Helmut Fend on the functions of school in society (Fend, 1980, 2003) provided the theoretical framework for the study. For the interpretation, I used Tara J. Yosso’s theory on community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) and the categorization of school success of Hungarian Roma and Gypsy women advanced by Katalin Forray and András Hegedűs (Hegedűs, 1996; Forray & Hegedűs, 2003). The study shows that all the interviewees had a very strong learning motivation and were ready to face conflicts with the traditional female role model. Their parents and teachers mostly played a very positive role in their success, but the most important factor was their own learning motivation.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 116. Number 2. 171-196. (2016)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Óhidy Andrea, Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg, Kunzenweg 21, 79117 Freiburg.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia