Two hooded Roma sit on a horse drawn carriage on a winding road
Article/journal, Global governance, Europe & Eurasia, Human rights & justice, Global Justice Lab, Munk School

Legal Cynicism and System Avoidance: Roma Marginality in Central and Eastern Europe

The Roma are Europe’s largest minority group and face extensive discrimination across the continent. Drawing on a survey of Roma and non-Roma households in twelve Central and Eastern European countries, we analyze the extent to which legal cynicism, as a cognitive frame, is connected to the avoidance of helpful social institutions. We thus expand existing research on legal cynicism to focus on individuals’ contacts with potentially helpful institutions that can buffer inequality. We conclude that the interplay of legal cynicism and system avoidance, which have provided deep insights into the reproduction of structural disadvantage in American cities, also provide us with international insights into the causes of inequality and minority disadvantage across hundreds of towns in Central and Eastern Europe. In this way, legal cynicism and system avoidance work to reproduce durable inequality.