Dissertation Abstracts

Social and Cultural Factors Influencing the Academic Trajectories of Roma Children in France

Author: Grigoras, Costel , grigoras@europe.com
Department: Sociology
University: Paris Sorbonne, France
Supervisor: Jean-Christophe Marcel
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: French

Keywords: roma education , inclusive education , ethnicity
Areas of Research: Education , Family Research , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


The integration within the European Union of Romania and Bulgaria has generated an increased visibility of Roma immigrants in France – and in Europe – especially in the public sphere. The Romas’ typical lifestyle, centered on the extended family group, creates a specific migration process for them: collective migration. This collective migration leads to challenges in finding formal types of accommodation. Hence, the Roma are forced to occupy alternative habitats, in other words, slums and squats. This illegal occupation of space has led to expulsions and evictions that engender the Romas geographical mobility on a more or less wide area.
In this context of social and spatial instability, the issue of Roma children’s education in France necessitates detailed study. Thus, it is highly important to see the origins and the specificities of those factors that influence the academic trajectories of Roma children and their impact on their education in terms of time. How do Roma children manage to integrate into the French academic system? How do the phenomena of absenteeism, de-schooling and dropping out affect Roma children? What macro, meso and micro social factors shape Roma children’s academic trajectories?
Social reproduction is generated by academic institutions. This is because academic institutions tend to encourage the values of children coming from advantaged backgrounds and ignore those of underprivileged children or those coming from a different cultural backgrounds, who suffer from a socio-cultural handicap (Esterle-Hedibel, 2006). In this competitive setting (Broccolichi & Van Zanten, 1997),Roma children who come from an underprivileged background are directly inferior to the children that are part of the majority group. Hence, school failure can be considered a democratic failure: schools – as part of the governmental apparatus – are implicated in the production of social inequality. School failure can thus be understood not only as the child’s failure, but that of the academic institution itself. The underprivileged child will be in conflict with the values and the norms that the school promotes and which oppose those that his/her family follow (Dubet & Martucelli, 1996).
The child’s underprivileged familial and social background is also due to the insufficiency of cultural capital within the family. The family’s cultural shortcomings, the lack of strategies (Déchaux, 2007), as well as the parents’ negative view of schooling (informed by their own schooling experiences in Romania) can have a serious impact on the child’s intellectual development. The socio-cultural handicap, absenteeism and the lack of attention given during classes lead to gaps in the child’s educational process, which can be a determining factor for dropping out. This analysis thus shows that Roma children’s educational process and academic trajectories are influenced by personal factors, such as: self-esteem, being motivated to learn, and a sense of responsibility.

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