“Struggle” for Trust – Unintended Consequences of an “Integration Project”

“Struggle” for Trust – Unintended Consequences of an “Integration Project”

Markéta Levínská (Faculty of Education, University of Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic) and David Doubek (Departement of Psychology, Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
DOI: 10.4018/IJBIDE.2019070102

Abstract

This article has resulted from multiple years of cooperation of the research team Bittnerová, Doubek, and Levínská that examines issues related to Roma education in the context of social exclusion. Its main topic is to search for an understanding and interpretation of the failure of the project aiming to develop a social centre intended to serve as a basis for providing social services to needy residents of the researched site. The failure of “integration” is not just the refusal of embracing intercultural differences but the symbolic refusal of the impoverished status of the whole town, with the local Roma being the most glaring symbol of that impoverishment. This theoretical point is the theory of cultural models of Strauss and Quinn. “Romahood” is seen as a radial family resemblance category driven by a prototype in the context of distributed culture.
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Methodology And Ethics Of The Research

As previously stated, the research was conceived as an anthropological fieldwork based on participant observation, interviews, and the collection of supplemental data from various sources.

The original research focus was on the “cultural models” as understood in cognitive anthropology (more below) and because of that the main data came from interviews. There was also a deep interest in the context; because of this many other sources of data were relied upon, such as observation, social media, analysis of various documents including the municipal Memorial Book, local newspapers available both in printed and online forms accessible on the town’s website. Documents published by the Agency for Social Inclusion and reports by other researchers or students, who had conducted research at the site, were also used.

Entry into the community was facilitated by the fact that members of this research study were in friendly relationship with several members in the Roma community who provided introductions to other individuals at various social positions (schools, NGOs, neighbours, the local political scene) from which moment independent networking was able to be started. Since an early contact and friend was the former Mayor, close contact in the social-political universe of the community was able to be achieved. Quite early on, Roma contacts were able to be built thanks to a very able Roma social worker who gave introductions to local Roma communities. From the early stages of this research project, operations were conducted independently out of the “mayoral shadow” as initially provided by the friend.

From the beginning, it was soon learned that trust needed to be built and it was wise to avoid any forced formal procedures. During this period a distinct way of relaxed, long, and wide-ranging interviews developed to suit informants. This approach was later also used for interviews with helping professionals. “Informal” means these interviews were open to improvisation, even playfulness, but the informants were always thoroughly informed who the interviewers were and what university and projects they worked for. Participation was completely voluntary and agreed to by the informants. To protect these informants, thorough anonymization was used, and so in no published account real names of the place or people are used. Monographs were always provided for comments so that the participants knew the finished product.

The interviews could be several hours long and sometimes there were only two people speaking, but more often there were several speakers. When the interviews took place in Roma households, there was arguing, discussions, jokes and all kinds of human talk.

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