Recommendations

 

  1. Why do we need social psychology to fight antigypsyism?
  2. Psychological interventions to reduce prejudice
  3. The unique characteristics of antigypsyism
  4. Best practice examples
  5. Recommendations

 

In this toolkit we provided an overview of social psychological interventions to reduce prejudice, explained why and under which conditions they work. We also outlined the specific characteristics of antigypsyism in Europe and presented best practice examples with explanations why they were selected. This information was structured in a way to provide directions to any actors planning to implement programmes to reduce antigypsyism, however, we now briefly summarise our recommendations for specific actors.

Our recommendations for European, national and local level policy and decision makers is to understand their role as social referents. Social referents are well-connected and influential people who set collective norms. Accordingly, if their actions reflect a firm stance against antigypsyism as a principle in all decision-making processes, other members of society, both individuals and institutions, will adjust their attitudes and actions to these norms. These norms can also ensure a supportive environment for all antidiscrimination interventions, ensuring their long-term effects that are otherwise impossible to attain. The power of norms has been identified in many different social contexts and it also revealed to have a connection with antigypsyism within the PolRom project.

Norms can effectively counter antigypsyism with the recognition that antigypsyism emerges in three predominant forms: (1) endorsement of blatantly expressed traditional negative stereotypes; (2) the denial of prejudice; and (3) the absence of cultural recognition. Therefore, only those norms can be effective against antigypsyism that simultaneously dismantle old stereotypes, promote the value of diversity and non-discrimination, but do not use a colourblind approach.

Considering the scope of the problem of antigypsyism, stakeholders need to support systematic institutionalized interventions to directly address the structural problems and offer institutional support for interventions, educate various professional groups, enable intergroup contact through desegregation policies in housing, labour market and education, but also encourage the implementation of smaller scale interventions that address individual level change, such as the introduction of innovative school methods and curricula and the work of NGOs. Importantly, they need to support interventions with scientific foundations that also respond to local needs, as neither theory, nor practice can provide solutions alone.

The work of NGOs is essential in reducing antigypsyism in society. However, their engagement represents different levels of interventions from small-scale local projects to large international programmes and address problems on different levels (individual, intergroup and societal). Therefore, specific recommendations cannot fit the work of all NGOs, but our toolkit can offer something for all NGOs working in the area of reducing antigypsyism and Roma inclusion. NGOs have the responsibility and the potential to rely both on scientific knowledge and grassroots experiences in particular social settings and local communities. Taking into account that the applicability of interventions is strongly context dependent, in the following, we highlight the most important general suggestions for NGOs:

  • Understand the different layers of antigypsyism in the given context before identifying the goals of an intervention.
  • Antigypsyism is a form of prejudice that has cognitive, emotional, and behavioural components. Consider that changing cognitive processes is more challenging than influencing emotions and altering behaviour, and not all cognitive biases can be eliminated. However, acknowledging that cognitive biases are normal mental processes does not mean that prejudice is justified and cannot be changed.
  • Interventions should be tailored to the particular context and not implemented without adaptations. In this adaptation process, Roma people and members of the specific target group should be included in an active role to avoid making assumptions about Roma people and communities and reinforcing stereotypes.
  • While some interventions target specifically members of the majority society or specifically Roma people, interventions have some effect on both communities. These unintended effects should be considered in advance when designing and implementing programmes. Most importantly, seeking intergroup harmony in a colourblind way can lead to positive changes among members of the majority, but it conveys false messages about structural inequalities and can potentially reduce Roma engagement.
  • Determine the scope of the intervention (individual, intergroup, or societal), and design the programme accordingly. Be aware of the connection between the different levels, and how they can modify the expected outcome of an intervention, notably, how individual level change is limited by the lack of societal changes.
  • The effectiveness of an intervention depends on the scale of the intervention. Interventions can be more effective if they target more levels of antigypsyism simultaneously, they are long term and repeated over time. Nevertheless, single interventions can potentially initiate or contribute to larger changes as well.
  • Consider that interventions can be effective for some individuals, but not for others. In fact, interventions can sometimes backfire and increase the problem. Furthermore, some interventions can be effective in some contexts, but not in others. Therefore, when designing interventions, the conditions under which they work effectively should be established based on previous scientific evidence and assessed during implementation.
  • The effectiveness of an intervention can and should be measured and not assumed. However, the scope of change is dependent on several factors. For example, individual level attitude change may become greater and more lasting if it contributes to formation of new group norms and is supported by institutional norms.
  • Choose feasible interventions given the context and target audiences, rather than an ideal one. For example, when the conditions of contact are not possible, choose indirect contact as an initial step.
  • Interventions should be built on scientific evidence, and ideally realise the cooperation between academics and practitioners, specifically, in the phase of planning and design, and in the impact assessment.

Partners

The project “Identifying evidence-based methods to effectively combat discrimination of the Roma in the changing political climate of Europe” (Grant. No. 808062 — PolRom — REC-AG-2017/REC-RDIS-DISC-AG-2017) is funded by the Justice programme of the European Union (2014-2020).

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