Roma within Obstructing and Transformative Spaces
Migration Processes and Social Distance in Ethnically Mixed Localities in Romania
The aim of our article is to inquire into the interconnectedness of local social context, mobility processes and social transformations. We argue that migratory patterns of the local Roma population in ethnically mixed communities are shaped by the degree and modes of maintenance of social distance between the Roma and local majority. While social distance can shape the ways migrant networks develop, it also influences the way remittances are invested at home. The analysis focuses on the comparison of two rural communities from Transylvania where we carried out community studies and a household survey which also included attitude questions related to ethnic groups. Our study revealed that the most visible aspect of the local separation is the housing segregation. While this is present in both cases, in one of the villages Roma use their upward mobility to challenge social segregation and to reduce physical distance (i.e. moving inside the village). Here in spite of physical closeness social distance between the majority and Roma remains high. In the other locality the importance of social ties increase during migration and social distance is reduced, while the ethnic groups maintain their relative residential separation.
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