‘I was told the position has already been filled’

Barriers to mobility and coping strategies of highly qualified Roma youth on their way to the business sector in Hungary


  • Vera Messing Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest; CEU Democracy Institute
  • Zsuzsanna Árendás Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest; CEU Democracy Institute


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social mobility, Roma in CEE, racialized minority, forms of Bourdesian capital, barriers to mobility, corporate sector


The article investigates educational and career paths of educated Roma youth in Hungary as striving to enter quality employment in the business sector. While the employment rate of well-educated Roma youth is high compared to the general Roma population, their sectoral distribution is skewed towards self-employment, and towards the public sector vis-à-vis private sector. Our article investigates the reasons for the low presence of educated Roma in the business sphere, a sector which holds the greatest potential of occupational and social mobility. We use a survey dataset of educated young Roma (N=381), and also rely on in-depth interviews with youth from the same group, which provided us with a better understanding of the individual experiences of social mobility. We identify some of the main barriers linked to business sector employment of the Roma youth. By utilising the Bourdesian theoretical lens, we focus on the importance of cultural habitus and its misrecognition in professional settings. The paper analyses successful capital mobilizations of those striving towards/ experiencing social mobility, while discussing experiences of failures too. These findings are unique in their nature as they pinpoint individual mobility strategies, the role of different forms of capitals in strive for jobs and later in early professional career.






Social mobility