The Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS) is an independent non-profit institution set up for the promotion of advanced scholarship and academic cooperation in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Learn more >

Fellow Seminar

27 April 2017

Dr. Tünde Virag will present her research proposal on the topic: "Changing Patterns of Spatial Marginalization in CEE Countries" on 27 April 2017 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS Conference Hall.


In Central-Eastern European countries, the majority of Roma live in poverty, enduring destitute housing conditions, exclusion, discrimination in the educational system, on the labour market, and in housing and development policies (Berescu et al. 2013). A recent survey concluded that approximately every second Roma person lives in a neighbourhood where the dominant ethnicity is Roma. The living conditions and social relationships in these communities will vary based on the forms and extent of spatial and social exclusion in the given settlement (Gatti et al. 2016, p.154). In Central-Eastern European countries, Roma neighbourhoods tend to exhibit one of two major spatial forms of exclusion: the ghettoized rural village and the urban district (Ladányi & Szelényi 2006; Virág 2006). Recent studies on urban and rural Roma ghettos describe the various patterns of marginalized Roma neighbourhoods experience in relation to the prevalence and strength of their social and spatial exclusion. Essentially, the diversity of segregated Roma neighbourhoods reflects the various levels of heterogeneity and stratification as well as the geographical and linguistic positions Roma have in different CEE countries (Fleck & Rughinis 2008; Vincze & Rat 2013; Vincze 2014; Váradi &Virág 2014).

This presentation aims to provide a better understanding and analysis of the complexity and diversity of segregated Roma neighbourhoods in CEE context, Hungary and Bulgaria in particular. The object of this presentation is twofold: firstly I intend to present the patterns of segregated neighborhoods for Roma. Spatial and social exclusion of Roma is a dynamic process, changing over time, and located on a continuum that straddles between two ideal typical end-points: the ethnic neighbourhood and the ghetto (Wacquant 2007, 2012). On one end of the above-mentioned continuum is the ghetto, a concentrated dwelling place of marginalized social groups belonging to various ethnic minorities meeting four specific criteria: the area in question is distinctly separated from the rest of the settlement and lends itself to easy delineation; the majority society describes the area and the families living there in negative terms (stigma); the inhabitants did not move to the area voluntarily, but under some duress (be it economic, administrative, or symbolic); and inhabitants use an institutional system parallel to, and separate from, that of the majority society (Wacquant 2012). The opposite end of the above-mentioned continuum is the ethnic neighbourhood; a socially heterogeneous area with spatial concentration of a particular group. Compared to ghettos, ethnic neighbourhoods can be seen as voluntary congregations. This means that families come and/or stay in them of their own free will and are not pressurised by economic or social conditions to live there; the given part of the settlement is not physically separated from the rest of the settlement and the inhabitants have access to the same institutions and public spaces as the majority society. (Marcuse 1997; Wacquant 2012). It should be emphasized that the concept of the ghetto and ethnic neighbourhood (Wacquant 2004) are ideal types that never exist in reality; the two theoretical endpoints, the ghetto and ethnic neighbourhood, represent ideal types that each consist of a combination of characteristics. Therefore, the different spatial and social forms of segregated neighbourhoods situated on the continuum, between ghetto and ethnic neighbourhood, are also not fixed and may change over time.

Secondly the presentation aims to provide the better understanding drivers of spatial marginalization: on the one hand making and maintenance of segregated places for marginalized families through the penalization of poverty and stigmatization of spaces (Wacquant 2009, Rhodes 2012, Picker 2013), on the other hand displacement as the consequence of forced evictions which produce not only situations of spatial segregation but squatter settlements for marginalized Roma as spatial manifestation of informality/illegality (Tsenkova, 2009, 2012).


BERESCU, C., M. PETROVIC & N. TELLER (2013), Housing Exclusion of the Roma Living on the Edge. In: J. HEGEDÜS, M. LUX & N. TELLER, eds., Social Housing in Transition Countries, pp. 98-116., Routledge.

FLECK, G. & C. RUGHINIS (2008), Come Closer. Inclusion and Exclusion of Roma in Present-Day Romanian Society. Bucharest: Human Dynamics.

GATTI, R., S. KARACSONY, K. ANAN, C. FERRE & C. PAZ NIEVES (2016), Being Fair, Faring Better Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma. World Bank Groups.

LADÁNYI, J. & I. SZELÉNYI (2006), Patterns of Exclusion: Constructing Gypsy Ethnicity and the Making of an Underclass in Transitional Societies of Europe. New York: Columbia University Press.

MARCUSE, P. (1997), The enclave, the citadel, and the ghetto: what has changed in the post-Fordist US city. Urban Affairs Review 33.2, pp. 228-264.

PICKER G. (2016)‘That neighbourhood is an ethnic bomb!' The emergence of an urban governance apparatus in Western Europe European Urban and Regional Studies 2016, Vol. 23(2) 136-148

RHODES, J. (2012), Stigmatization, space, and boundaries in de-industrial Burnley. Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 35 No. 4 April, pp. 684-703.

TSENKOVA, S. (2009) Self-Made Cities In Search Of Sustainable Solutions for Informal Settlements United Nations New York and Geneva

TSENKOVA, S. (2012) Urban Planning And Informal Cities In Southeast Europe Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 29:4 (Winter, 2012)

VÁRADI, M. & T. VIRÁG (2014), Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization. Experiences from Hungary. In: J. SZALAI & V. ZENTAI, eds., Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization in Local Contexts: Hungary, Romania, Serbia, pp. 35-65. Budapest: Central European University. http://pasos.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cps-book-faces-and-causes-2014.pdf

VINCZE, E. & C. RAT (2013), Guest Editors Foreword for the Special Issue on "Spatialization and Racialization od Social Exclusion. The Social and Cultural Formation of ‘Gypsy Ghettos' in Romania in a European Context. Studia Universitas Sociologia 58, pp. 5-22. http://www.studia.ubbcluj.ro/download/pdf/816.pdf

VINCZE, E. (2014), Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization: Experiences from Romania. In: J. SZALAI & V. ZENTAI, eds., Faces and Causes of Roma Marginalization in Local Contexts: Hungary, Romania, Serbia, pp. 127-166. Budapest: Center for Policy Studies, Central European University. http://cps.ceu.edu/sites/default/files/publications/cps-book-faces-and-causes-2014.pdf

VIRÁG, T. (2006), The Regional Ghetto. Review of Sociology of the Hungarian Sociological Association 12, 1, pp. 51-70.

WACQUANT, L. (2012), A Janus-Faced Institution of Ethnoracial Closure: A Sociological Specification of the Ghetto. In: R. HUTSHINSON & B.D. HAYNES, eds., The Ghetto. Contemporary Global Issues and Controversies, pp. 1-32., Westview Press.

WACQUANT, L.J.D. (2007), Territorial stigmatization in the age of advanced marginality. Thesis Eleven 91, pp. 66-77.


© 2009 CAS. All Rights Reserved.
7, Stefan Karadja Str., vh.3 ap. 23, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria, tel.: (+359) 2 980 37 04, fax: (+359) 2 980 36 62, e-mail:
Made By WF