The twisting path to adulthood : a qualitative study with Gypsy youth in Cascais, Portugal
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Gypsies are amongst the vulnerable and most deprived individuals, and the largest ethnic minority in Europe with approximately 10-12 millions. Despite much study conducted on Gypsies and a growing body of research on youth transitions, little is known about how young Gypsies navigate their ways into adulthood, and this thesis addresses this gap. Using triangulation of participatory methods, the thesis aims to explore how expectations from the Gypsy community and the mainstream culture have influenced Gypsy youth transitions to adulthood by focusing on young people’s experience of education, livelihoods and aspirations. This study shows that Gypsy youth transitions to adulthood in Cascais is shaped by processes of socialisation and the informal education they receive within family relationships is based on local knowledge. Young Gypsies are encouraged to be interdependent as part of a great collective, expected to assume social and economic responsibilities from an early age for when they are expected to marry, and raise a family of their own. All of which are crucial components of transition to adulthood. However, young Gypsies increasingly encounter demands of formal education to gain formal jobs. In the mainstream culture young people are required to engage in long school period before they could take adult roles. Thus, many Gypsy experience a tension between the expectations from the Gypsy community, and the mainstream culture. The structure with which Gypsy youth navigate their pathways to adulthood during the life-course is far more diverse than traditional theories of transitions propose.