Identities Gypsies in Portugal, plural identities?
Departamento de Ciências Sociais e de Gestão Universidade Aberta Porto, Portugal
Gypsy people are usually referred to as a socially and culturally homogeneous group, with the allocation of certain negative social characteristics. However, the social reality is dynamic and diverse, with multiple social experiences of Gypsy people reflected in various gypsies groups, with different expressions and identity affiliations.
Individuals have different social experiences and may even live a plurality of socializations and opening up themselves to multiple and significant ways in their environment. For this analysis we combined the theory of habitus (Bourdieu, 1979), regarding the issue of the habitus transposability, with the interaction scenery (Goffman, 1974) that allow the learning of new skills without losing cultural references and previous identifications. The possibility of new learning and internalization of new skills, relational or conduct ones, lead to diverse social logics. Thus, the plurality of habitus derives directly from the plurality of experiences of socialization and these ones largely derive from the plurality of significant contexts of interaction.
Accordingly, the individual can move between different worlds and social contexts, activating different forms of action vested in the diversity of contemporary contexts of socialization (Lahire, 2005) that returns the player contextual frameworks in social interactions and records. There is then a selective activation of certain forms of action, between the various learned in different social contexts and interactions in the course of several significant social experiences of individuals.
In this paper we discuss the gypsy identity as a complex social phenomenon, impregnated by the influence of social contexts in which individuals move and the importance of diversity in social relations. The data presented were collected through a qualitative research conducted in various geographic regions of Portugal, with the application of in-depth interviews with individuals of gypsy origin who self-describe themselves as gypsies.