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'It's in their Culture': Working with automatic prejudice towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers during care proceedings

Allen, Daniel (2016) 'It's in their Culture': Working with automatic prejudice towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers during care proceedings. Seen and Heard, 26 (2). pp. 40-52. ISSN 1744-1072

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Abstract

Automatic prejudice is a term that could be used to describe the processes and phenomena of unwitting discrimination towards the ‘conceptual Gypsy’. Where specific education and training has not been provided, there exists evidence to suggest that some decisions made during care proceedings can be informed by unreflected presuppositions. In these cases, decisions are often justified against pathologising or cultural relativist reactions toward a conceptual ‘Gypsy’ culture. In an attempt to reduce the opportunities for automatic prejudice, this paper will briefly show how socio-political discourse has cemented automatic discriminatory attitudes towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers as a socially acceptable bastion of racism. In specific relation to care proceedings, this paper will argue that the potential influence of automatic prejudice on the decision making process requires children’s guardians, family court advisors and social workers to ensure that any order given, or placement type considered, accurately reflects the realities and lived experiences of the child, and is not influenced by recommendations which might otherwise be indicative of unreflected examples of reciprocated fear between professionals and the community of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers themselves.

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