The idea for this study arose after reading the report Romers rätt - en strategi för romer i Sverige (Department of culture 2010) in which the senders estimate that the unemployment rate amongst the Roma population in Sweden is at 80 percent. After a dive into academic literature regarding the Roma population in Sweden and the labor market, it became clear that there is little research regarding Roma people in Sweden who are active on the labor market. The aim of this study is therefore to enrich the academic debate regarding Roma people in Sweden and their interaction with the labor market. More precisely this study seeks to explore two main issues; how Roma people in Sweden define their group as well as how the Roma identity has affected their integration with the Swedish labor market.
The study is based on interviews with employed persons who all define themselves as Roma people. The material has later been sorted out with the help of the thematic analysis. The analytical framework builds on theories found in Charles Tilly’s Durable Inequality (Tilly 1998), Elias’s and Scotson’s book Established and Outsiders (Elias and Scotson 1999) and Pierre Bourdieu’s Practical Reason (Bourdieu 1999).
The investigation shows that the Roma group cannot be demarked in an adequate manner. The study also concludes that there is no consensus regarding who is included or excluded from this group, why it is impossible to define this group of people. However, we have on the other hand found that habitus (Bourdieu 1999) is a crucial factor for our respondents’ understanding of their identity as Roma people. Furthermore their idea of themselves as a specific group is a result of the majority of the society pointing them out as “the other”. The common denominator for our respondents is namely a feeling of alienation, although this feeling of alienation is not always based upon personal experiences. The feeling of alienation then follows the Roma people to the labour market. Lastly, our data point at that the alienation factor maintains and reproduces a demarcation from which the Roma people and the majority of the society are separated from one another.
Keywords: Roma people, alienation, identity, labour market, categorical inequality