Roma social inclusion is of utmost importance for the Romanian society. Although there are no reliable figures regarding the percentage of Roma people, it can be estimated that this group amounts to more than 10% of the population of the country and due to the demographic developments this quota will increase considerably. The role of civil society in strengthening social cohesion and inclusion is important. As the church is representing a huge majority of the population and has a considerable influence on beliefs and practices, the Romanian Church can be seen as potentially major player in Romanian civil society actor. In Norway, as in many other European countries, migration of people from Romania, including Roma people, is a visible phenomenon with a permanent potential for conflicts.
The project will initiate, stimulate and sustain Romanian and Norwegian research about the inclusion of the Roma population by focusing on the (potential) role of the Romanian Church in relation to the in/exclusion of Roma people. The project will also focus on local case studies of interaction between Roma and the Romanian Church, which will be addressed through participatory approach, both in research methodology and through initiating new practices locally, in concrete contexts. Common training seminars in participatory research together with the Norwegian partner institution are a decisive part of the project. The project will thus develop Romanian and Norwegian expertise in methodology with a potential to impact research in social sciences and theology, but also local level inclusion work of Roma people, both in the religious and the secular field. As main religious actor in Romania, the ROC is essential in understanding the mindset of the Romanian majority population with regards to the Roma. The third major contribution of the project is thus to strengthen the theological reflection about the social role of the ROC in general, and for Roma social inclusion in particular.