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Interethnic Contact in Integrated Churches: Mediation without Transformation of Majority-Roma Relations in Central Europe

Interethnic Contact in Integrated Churches: Mediation without Transformation of Majority-Roma... While intergroup contact and group position scholars have found that individuals can maintain prejudice despite associational contact and affective ties, this study finds that integrated organizations can specifically mediate ethnic relations through managing threat to the privileged majority’s group position. In Slovakia, where Roma are generally even more impoverished and interethnic relations are just as tense, group-level interethnic conflict occurs less often than in the neighboring Czech Republic. Integrated church organizations in Slovakia seem to provide opportunities for associational interethnic contact, known to contain conflict. In reality, while Slovak church leaders manage to integrate their organizations to varying extents, perceived threat to majority group position limits their ability to truly transform unequal ethnic relations. A comparison to the socially and politically similar Czech case, where neither secular and religiously affiliated organizations are able to play this role among a generally nonreligious population, demonstrates that Whites perceive both service provision and advocacy as threatening their group position. Organizations thus settle for brokering relationships between Romani communities and official institutions, not with their White neighbors. With evidence from semi-structured interviews with key respondents conducted between 2014 and 2015, I argue that Slovak churches and church-affiliated organizations racially integrate and maintain peaceful relations not through the expected routes, but through mediating structured interethnic relations. By focusing on service provision, limiting Romani participation, or internally segregating the organization, Whites can mentally maintain their superior group position despite integration. These findings have implications for all multi-ethnic societies interested both in maintaining interethnic peace and pursuing racial equity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Race and Ethnicity SAGE

Interethnic Contact in Integrated Churches: Mediation without Transformation of Majority-Roma Relations in Central Europe

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity , Volume 5 (1): 15 – Jan 1, 2019

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© American Sociological Association 2018
ISSN
2332-6492
eISSN
2332-6506
DOI
10.1177/2332649217753647
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

While intergroup contact and group position scholars have found that individuals can maintain prejudice despite associational contact and affective ties, this study finds that integrated organizations can specifically mediate ethnic relations through managing threat to the privileged majority’s group position. In Slovakia, where Roma are generally even more impoverished and interethnic relations are just as tense, group-level interethnic conflict occurs less often than in the neighboring Czech Republic. Integrated church organizations in Slovakia seem to provide opportunities for associational interethnic contact, known to contain conflict. In reality, while Slovak church leaders manage to integrate their organizations to varying extents, perceived threat to majority group position limits their ability to truly transform unequal ethnic relations. A comparison to the socially and politically similar Czech case, where neither secular and religiously affiliated organizations are able to play this role among a generally nonreligious population, demonstrates that Whites perceive both service provision and advocacy as threatening their group position. Organizations thus settle for brokering relationships between Romani communities and official institutions, not with their White neighbors. With evidence from semi-structured interviews with key respondents conducted between 2014 and 2015, I argue that Slovak churches and church-affiliated organizations racially integrate and maintain peaceful relations not through the expected routes, but through mediating structured interethnic relations. By focusing on service provision, limiting Romani participation, or internally segregating the organization, Whites can mentally maintain their superior group position despite integration. These findings have implications for all multi-ethnic societies interested both in maintaining interethnic peace and pursuing racial equity.

Journal

Sociology of Race and EthnicitySAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2019

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