‘Even if we are Roma, we are clean, respectful, and always went to school’

Analysing the types, functions, and meanings of capitals that shape the upward educational mobility path of Roma in Romania


  • Zsuzsa Plainer ISPMN


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Roma in Romania, upward educational mobility, cultural wealth model


The aim of the present research is to analyse how some Roma in Romania become educationally mobile. Based on the cultural wealth model and the constructivist approaches to ethnicity and scholarship in relation to cultural racism, I intended to take stock of the forms of capital Roma persons make use of when ascending. I considered that the narrative type of interviews could be a successful means of generating a better understanding of the meaning and functioning of capitals.

Narratives inform us that the same type of capital may appear in different forms: family capital may denote not ‘just’ the transmission of the importance of education to children but protection from racial insults, too. Institutional agents (as sources of social capital acquisition) – despite their good will – may equally facilitate the inclusion of and reproduce unequal racial categorization.

Behaving differently, in opposition to the stereotypes associated with the Roma (low educational attainment, early marriage, poverty), is a conscious choice that may help many of the Roma to resist racial attacks.






Social mobility