Ethnic Culture and Culture of Poverty: the Gypsy/Roma Essay

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Peter Szuhay asked in "Constructing a Gypsy National Culture" whether the Gypsies are an ethnic culture or a culture of poverty. I would like to argue that the Gypsy identity is a product of traditional ethnic culture as well as the product of a marginalized social stratum. There are many aspects of gypsy ethnic culture to which can be contributed to the result of marginalization and sometimes those same ethnic cultural traits become stereotypes to which society justifies their stigmatization and poverty. Thus emerges a pattern of both ethnic and social traits being interdependent, intertwined and self-perpetuated. The intersection of the two conflicting cultures can be seen in the following statement made by many and is commonly…show more content…
Often Romany families who are poor will avoid the schools, and if they do send the children to school they have trouble going regularly as well as being socially accepted by the teacher and his classmates. (Sigler 7) A majority of these children are not able to advance further in their education because they fail to neither pass biased exams nor be fluent enough in the language of the state. Thus they are either held back or send to a special school and later end up at a trade school. In this case, the distinct language that distinguishes their ethnic culture also serves as a handicap to the children, perpetuating their social immobility and continues to stigmatize into a culture of poverty.
In Miriam Lee Kaprow's study of the Gitanos in Spain she found that the only cultural characteristic to which she can distinguish a Gypsy from a local is through something she call the "essence of the Gypsy." This essence is their "flair" and the "sheer energy with which they embarked on everything." (Willems 5) Agnes Daroczi describes the Gypsies' "knack for living from day to day" and value of "feeling good" is the same characterization for an ideal ethnic cultural trait that is unique and shared among the diverse Gypsy communities all across Europe
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