In April 2019 the UK government reported that little progress had been made to remedy social outcomes inequality between Roma and the wider population, recommending further recognition of Roma, for example in census data, to enable identification of Roma, their needs, and how to meet those needs. In this article we present an account of one Roma woman’s journey from hiding her identity to celebrating it. We expose five critical incidents that challenge and mould her sense of identity and career aspiration, with insights into her hopes and dreams as she reflects upon the barriers she faces and attempts to overcome. The narrative enhances understanding of the intersection of experience and ethnic identity formation, Marcella’s (pseudonym) case study emerges verbatim through quotes; we do not alter or correct her English. In our exploration, we follow the six classical steps recommended in case study analysis (Yin, 2009) and ground some of the key analytical concepts in Goffman’s theories of stigma (1963) and theatrical performances in everyday life. We conclude by identifying key parallels in her experience, relevant regardless of socioeconomic status to further debate on the nature of internalised shame, stigma, and class.


Aspiration, Discrimination, Identity, Inequality, Roma, Stigmatised Identity, Talk Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Helen Collins is a Senior Lecturer in HRM at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). With Patricia Harrison her research into barriers to equality for Roma has led to two community projects, both receiving recognition by UK government for their role in advancing improved opportunity in employment and education for Roma. Please direct correspondence to h.collins@ljmu.ac.uk.

Patricia Harrison is a Senior Lecturer in HRM at LJMU. As well as research into removing barriers to labour market participation for marginalised groups such as Roma, Tricia is also researching increased access to skill development in local skills eco systems. Please direct correspondence to p.a.harrison@ljmu.ac.uk.

Marek Palasinski is a Senior Lecturer in psychology at LJMU. His research interests are wide and include published work in youth crime, justice, stigmatised identity, and discrimination. Please direct correspondence to m.palasinski@ljmu.ac.uk.


Roma community of Liverpool Roma Community Support Workers

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