Ethnic Alterity And Collective Imaginary

excerptConclusions and final ideasStereotypes, as they are described in the first researches in this field, tend to be quite long-lasting, yet they do show changes. Images of the other are less enduring than images of self. In 1992, Romanians had a negative self-image on the whole, but some positive features from that image of the self were preserved, like hospitality and decency, and a once negative feature turned into a positive one, that is diligence, which the other ethnic groups don't accept as true. In 1992, Roma had a negative self-image, which improved and now shows features like cleanness, diligence, honor and hospitality, that the other ethnic groups don't accept as true. Is this group favoritism, a reactive attempt to make the self image positive in the context of the debates on their social context and behaviour, or the expression of a social will? The strategies that Roma have developed over the last years express the need for respect and identification: they leave the group with low social status, their own group, by social mobility, redefine the criteria for comparison in-group-out-group, so that their own group is valued, especially in what concerns their economic status, but do not enter a social competition by collective actions. There is a higher scission among Roma (17.6%), which is acknowledged both by themselves and by the other ethnic groups (Romanians: 14% Romanians from Transylvania: 16.8%, Hungarians: 14.6%).There is an obvious interest of the minority ethnic groups in the presence of their fellow ethnics in structures of authority, expressing the idea that they could contribute to the improvement of their situation, especially with Roma, who also show a higher degree of suspicion (answer: "you should only trust yourself" – Romanians: 78.8%, Hungarians: 79.4% and Roma: 94.3%).In the attempt to campaign for the idea of participating and partnership and for turning it into reality, the knowledge of the image that every ethnic group has of itself and of others, as well as the knowledge of the image that the majority has, are necessary for elaborating strategies in order to reduce frustrations, group favoritisms and psycho-social illusions. At the same time, the leaders of the minorities have to be stirred into action – especially the leaders of the Roma – in order to develop non-conflict relationships with the majority and among them, based on rational strategies and on defining the common wealth. There are different factors which contribute to the elaboration of these strategies. Some are connected to the negative history of certain relationships or to mutual ignorance. Others are connected with present day issues like poverty, social polarization, the influence of experiences of other countries and debates held outside the national context, the lack of project on short, medium and long term, and so forth.Inter-ethnic communication is not expressed here in a way in which it could insure the participation at the same level of consciousness of the social actors of different ethnic groups or at the level of the ethnic populations. Ethnic mobilization is unequal here, both in what concerns intensity and the substance of the motivation which makes it arise. Common sense makes us admit that there is much truth in the answer of a Romanian student from Sibiu to the following question: "If Romania were a family, which place would every nationality take within it?" The general attitude was that of total rejection. Romanians and Hungarians were not able to sketch theoretically an in-group. While a Hungarian intellectual states that "if there were a family, we would feel like the unwanted relatives" and a Romanian peasant states that these two ethnic groups "would be like mother-in-law with daughter-in-law", the Romanian student presents the only non-conflict image, which is impossible nowadays: "The father should be Saxon, the Hungarian should be the cook, and the Romanian should be the householder. The family doesn't work nowadays because the father is Romanian, not German." Barometer of Ethnic Relations 1994-2002. A Perspective of the Interethnic Climate of Romania, edited by Gabriel BĂDESCU, Mircea KIVU and Monica ROBOTIN, Cluj, Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center Publishing House, 2005

by Aurora Liiceanu