Unpacking the Roma Participation Puzzle: Presence, Voice and Influence

Aidan McGarry*, Timofey Agarin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The idea that Roma communities need to be included in public life is rather uncontroversial, widely accepted by Roma activists, academics and policy-makers in national and transnational political contexts. But, what do we mean by participation? Are we talking about formal political structures or do we refer to the capacity of ordinary Roma to have a presence in public life? The right to participation for minorities is specified by international norms but is interpreted differently in national contexts. Nevertheless, participation alone is not enough, thus minorities require 'effective' participation given that the utilitarian principles of liberal democracy means that groups such as Roma will always be outvoted. This article is based on the conviction that addressing the multiple and inter-connected issues facing Roma communities across Europe requires the participation of Roma in social, economic and political life. Whilst the article acknowledges the structural barriers which inhibit attempts to foster the integration of Roma communities, it does consider different conceptions of political participation including presence, voice and influence and how these are understood by the European Union and its member states with regards to Roma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1972-1990
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 02 Dec 2014


  • Participation
  • Minority
  • Representation
  • Presence
  • Voice
  • Roma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Demography


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