Culture, community and enterprise in a Hungarian Romany settlement
This thesis is designed to further our understanding of Hungarian-speaking Romany (Romungro) culture and, in the context of the post-communist transformation of Hungarian society and economy, to comment on how the values of the Romany community conflict with those of an NGO, the Dignity Foundation, working in the field of Romany community development. This thesis will contribute to a hitherto neglected aspect of the Hungarian Romany experience by providing an ethnography of Hungarian-speaking Roma. The thesis examines meanings of the terms Cigany (Gypsy), testver (extended family) and zsivany (crooked) behaviour in the context of the everyday life of a rural settlement. From enjoying near full employment under state socialism, the Roma in Hungary now find themselves in a situation that sociologists have presented as one of underclass formation. Evidence of entrepreneurial activity presented in the thesis questions the suggestion that all rural Romany groups are forming a post-communist underclass. The significantly increased role of the civil sector in issues of welfare is one of the most prominent features of the post-communist transformation and this thesis examines some of the consequences of this change. Drawing on the Dignity Foundation's experiences in this community, the thesis comments on the chasm between the values of the NGO and those of the community, in particular their different perceptions of trust and the significance that this has for the effectiveness of projects designed, in part, to encourage local-level civil society. The thesis suggests that local values must be respected by NGOs and others working with Roma for there to be effective dialogue.