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TÁMOP-5.5.5/08/1 A diszkrimináció elleni küzdelem – a társadalmi szemléletformálás és hatósági munka erősítése
„The Extent of Equal Treatment Awareness – With
Special Focus on Women, Roma, People with
Our research project was conducted within the TÁMOP 5.5.5 research programme as a collaboration of the Hungarian Equal Treatment Authority and the Institute of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (which became the Institute of Sociology within the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences during the course of the study). Our project examined discrimination in the light of the prevailing theoretical paradigm in contemporary social sciences, based on a consensus which to a large extent derives from empirical research. We are convinced that disadvantaged minorities, even if categorised on the grounds of trivial characteristics, are seen as homogeneous groups, stereotypically viewed and often stigmatised, socially marginalised and therefore often economically disadvantaged as well, are the victims of two-fold oppression. Women, physically or mentally impaired people, those with different lifestyles, elderly people, and members of ethnic minorities are these victims of this two-fold oppression. The structure of the political and social organisation of a given society on the one hand and the stigmatising categorical models that have emerged historically on the other, are equally to blame for their disadvantaged position.
The goal of our research project was to examine the change in public awareness of the legal aspects of equal treatment, and also to measure and analyse these with respect to the whole population and with respect to the protected categories. To achieve this goal we have conducted two surveys on representative national samples with the same thematic and methodological structure in 2010 and again in 2013. In both surveys social attitudes, knowledge, experiences and comments were examined separately. Since we used identical questionnaires and sample frames we were able to compare the results and examine tendencies. In addition to the 2010 nationally representative research besides the survey that was filled in by all participants we asked questions to two-hundred person community sub-samples of the protected (disabled, LGBT, Roma) groups about their particular and various perspectives on their minority life situation. We didn't examine the community sub-samples with questionnaires in the 2013 survey, because during 2012 we gained the opportunity to use focus group interviews so that members of the protected groups perceived as “Other” by majority society could express their comments, feelings, thoughts and recommendations with their own words in the name of those groups most affected by different types of social discrimination. In this phase of our qualitative research we found it necessary to create a female focus group in addition to the Roma, disabled, gay and lesbian groups. Within all these four protected groups we organised two focus groups (three groups in the case of Roma people): altogether during nine sessions 63 people participated in one and a half hour talks for each focus group.
We examined the central themes of our research – personal discrimination and social exclusion as well as the question of equal treatment and rights awareness – by focusing on four minority groups perceived as “Other” by the majority society. Since these groups have faced acute discrimination, exclusion and breaches of equal treatment we wished to examine their situation with a dual perspective. On the one hand from the survey conducted with the representative samples of the population we learnt how the acutely
vulnerable groups selected by us see themselves and how others, who are not members of these groups, see them. On other hand we addressed members of protected community sub-samples with a questionnaire and face-to-face with qualitative focus group-based research to understand how they evaluate their situation in society. We found the focus group-based research particularly suitable to gain a better understanding of the tendencies emerging from the questionnaire, discrimination, prejudice based knowledge, experiences, opinions, attitudes, thought schemas, described in their own words by those concerned. The focus groups provided a greater opportunity to examine the socially constructed forms of knowledge when compared with the quantitative questionnaire method, because through the prevailing group dynamics the participants may help each other in interpreting the important questions of this research and in adding nuance to the content of their answers.
We extended our research into “otherness” or diversity to include a large group within society – women – as well, which public opinion only identifies as a minority group with difficulty. Still, numerous research findings show that in Hungarian society the situation of women – similar to other minority groups – is subordinate to the dominant group of men, which represents the majority. When regarded overall, the status of women on the labour market, their income ratios, their prestige in society, their opportunities to access decision-making, form opinion and influence culture, definitely lag behind the opportunities of their male peers. Regarding the normatively prescribed women’s roles in the family, which to a large extent are also accepted by women they are also more exposed to inequalities and face greater risks of discrimination. We considered the Roma, the largest and most vulnerable of ethnic minorities to be a group particularly exposed to discrimination, a community characterised by structural disadvantages and the intertwining of ethnic identity, that is, by the “ethnicisation of poverty”. Institutions – schools, the labour market, the healthcare system, public administration, and so on – that tend to preserve and in some cases even escalate that social disadvantage, are at once responsible for that marginalised and excluded plight and also for their inability to prevent the reproduction of that social disadvantage, moreover the group is often confronted with increasing prejudice, and anti-Roma racism expressed by the media and some political figures. Our third group selected on the basis of their particular experience with discrimination is the group of disabled people. Besides their unfavourable states of health disabled people have to contend with problems that not only make their everyday lives hard, for example in the fields of employment, administration and transport, but conforming to the norms accepted by society can also hamper them. The fourth of our examined groups in focus consists of LGBT people. Even though significant steps have been taken in Hungary in the last two decades towards establishing equal rights for LGBT people, discrimination, being confronted with majority society prejudice as well as violence-inciting hate speech against LGBT people – and as a result of that ever more frequent violent attacks –, remain a daily experience in very many aspects of life of those concerned.
We examined the main topics of the representative sample-based questionnaire research and the distribution of the answers to specific question through the demographic, socio-cultural, economic, and income based categories of the participants that represent the population of the country. Similarly to other research results we found that all of our explanatory variables significantly impact on the everyday experiences of individuals. These experiences affect their world view, perspectives of social justice, their opinion of discrimination or even their relationship with preferential treatment to equalise
disadvantage. The results of our research show that the perception of the individual affects how the individual reacts and what kind of behaviour patterns the individual develops in respect of the factors influencing their civil rights in their immediate and broader environment – from society. Therefore the main possibility of comparison is to examine the connection between the life situation, opinions, attitudes, world view and behaviour based on all these factors in our several respondent groups established on the basis of [discrimination] dimensions.
One third of the participants of the national sample do not interact at all with members of the minority groups focused on by our research and only a few more than one tenth indicated that in their immediate environment members of all three groups are present. We found that higher education levels increase the chances of the individual having members of the minority groups focused on by our research in their social network. Women, residents of Budapest and the younger generation are more open to be in contact with those seen as “Others” compared with residents of small settlements, the elderly, or those who can be categorised on the labour market as entrepreneurs or pensioners. To get to know some people who differ in some of their attributes from the majority society according to relevant social psychological theories leads to non-stereotypical evaluation and a decrease in prejudice.
Our research results compared with both data from the 2012 Eurobarometer and with data from the first wave of our survey research we found that in 2013 in Hungary the perception of discrimination increased in almost every type of discrimination and based on most of the examined dimensions it was greater than that of the EU 27. The data shows a particularly big growth based on ethnicity, namely ethnic Roma. On the other hand the perception of sexual orientation-based discrimination and religious discrimination is below the European average values.
Our research has confirmed that discriminatory treatment is more often identified and there is a more delicate response by those who are members of the affected groups as well. Thus almost three times as many of the Roma participants witnessed discrimination against Roma people compared with non-Roma people, discrimination against people with disabilities was mentioned two times as often by people in the sample who considered themselves part of this group compared with people who did not. Between men and women we did not find a significant difference in the perception of different types of discrimination and from this aspect being female was not an exception either: in this regard there was only a slight difference between men and women.
According to our survey results, most of the nationally representative survey respondents considered discrimination on the basis of Roma ethnicity to be the most widespread in Hungary: four-fifths of respondents thought that discrimination because of Roma ethnicity is a common phenomenon in Hungary today. The second most important factor thought to lead to discrimination was age: one fifth of the population thought it to be very widespread, two fifth thought that discrimination on the basis of age was quite widespread. The factor considered the third most widespread one leading to discrimination was being disabled, while the fourth was belonging to the female gender.
In the world view of the respondents there is a recognisably important role for the kinds of reasons and conditions they assign to the origin of disadvantage. Our research confirmed that the development of disadvantage was attributed on the basis of a latent structure, that is, one section of the respondents prefer personal reasons, while the other section the other hand, attributed societal reasons to explain why a person is at a disadvantage. The level of education, place of residence and property condition seemed to influence opinions: those people living in more advantageous conditions were more prone to blame those suffering from disadvantage for their fate, while those who are themselves struggling with various forms of disadvantage – among these prominently the Roma respondents – would rather assign inevitable external societal reasons as the precursors of disadvantage.
The explanation of disadvantage is influenced by one’s own social position on the one hand, and the respondent’s values system on the other. According to our data, the sample respondents supported the equality-principle to the largest degree, followed by the acceptance of the conservative meritocratic values system, and finally followed by support of positive discrimination of minorities, expressing the equity-principle. We found a strong correlation between explaining disadvantage with personal reasons and the conservative meritocratic values system: our respondents who follow this values system were prone to accuse those suffering from disadvantage of being responsible for their fate. Those people with social sensitivity, who keep social justice in mind, would rather attribute structural reasons independent of the individual to the creation of disadvantage. According to our analysis various viewpoints of respondents emerging from opinions on principles and practices towards a fair society are associated with structural characteristics: educational level, income status, place (and type) of residence, gender and ethnic identity.
The dissimilarity in the various views of a just society also influences attitudes to affirmative action. Regarding their attitudes the relative majority of respondents accept measures of preferential treatment, a third of respondents is neutral in this respect, while one quarter would reject such measures. On the basis of analysis of our explanatory variables it turns out that only the age of respondents has a significant influence on whether respondents accept affirmative action. However, the cause attribution types in connection with disadvantage divided the sample. Those who suppose that societal causes are in the background of the establishment of disadvantage are more likely to support affirmative action: that is, precisely those who are themselves to a greater extent affected by various forms of disadvantage (women, people with low levels of education, people living under poorer financial conditions), sooner show signs of social sensitivity than their counterparts who are in a better situation. Not only the respondent’s own social position, but also contact with, and level of knowledge of the group of those living with disadvantage affect opinions. Those who, in the course of their everyday lives, are in touch with Roma people, disabled people, or with members of the group of LGBT people, are more accepting of measures intended to reduce disadvantage.
One of the main sources of views on the development and operation of social justice and a fair society is denoted by personal experiences of discrimination which people are faced with in the course of their everyday lives. The question of personally experienced discrimination was one of the main topics of our research. Among the grounds for discrimination affecting the respondents age was in first place, gender in second place, while discrimination because of the state of health stood in third place. According to the
respondents other significant and common grounds for discrimination included skin colour, social origin, property, belonging to a national-ethnic minority and discrimination on the grounds of race, that is, reasons related to ethnic and social situation. Personal experiences of discrimination occurring with intermediate frequency were due to grounds related to parental status, employment status, political views, marital status, religious or philosophical beliefs, as well as because of disability. Our respondents mentioned mother tongue, nationality, belonging to an advocacy organisation, sexual orientation, as well as gender identity least often as grounds of discrimination.
One of the basic questions of our research was whether the population’s personal experience and perception of discrimination decreased or grew between 2010 and 2013. Comparing our 2010 and 2013 data it can be determined that in 2013, except for one factor (social origin), in relation to all protected categories respondents more frequently mentioned personal experiences of discrimination. The question is difficult to decide whether this result indicates that the level of discrimination in Hungary actually increased, or that different groups in society have become more aware of discrimination, thereby being better able to perceive and identify the discrimination against them, and have become more sensitive towards “everyday grievances”.
An important result of our research of 2013 is that in the interval between 2010 and 2013 changes in the personal experiences of discrimination can primarily be attributed to answers reflecting a higher level of awareness on the part of female respondents. In 2010, between male and female respondents, we only found significant differences in three areas, based on gender, parental status, and marital status, in as much as women were more often personally discriminated for those reasons than men. In contrast to this in 2013 out of nineteen protected categories women mentioned seventeen more often. Among women, discrimination suffered on the grounds of race and skin colour increased exceptionally as well. We could assume two causes for this phenomenon. On the one hand, compared with the previous survey the proportion of respondents identifying themselves as Roma increased in the 2013 sample (from 7% to 10%). On the other hand, however, given that in this case a specific form of multiple discrimination, intersectionality is at issue (where discrimination on the grounds of two or more protected categories are inextricably linked), we can think of the increase in Roma women's rights awareness about discrimination as well. The latter interpretation can be supported by the difference in prevalence rates of experiences of discrimination between Roma women and Roma men as well. Roma women systematically mention both “being Roma” and the factors of gender as causes of discrimination to a greater extent, when compared with Roma men and also with non-Roma women. Compared with Roma men Roma women mention racial discrimination three times more often, one and a half times more often they referred to discrimination because of skin colour, while they reported discrimination on the grounds of belonging to a national-ethnic minority close to one and a half times more often. Racial grounds were mentioned as a cause of discrimination by 81.2% of Roma women and 67.3% of those reporting discrimination because of skin colour were also Roma women. These data also support the statement that there is increase in rights awareness of Roma women in connection with discrimination.
When we consider the areas of the implementation of the Equal Treatment Act together, and compare the 2010 and 2013 data, we can see that in all four areas that we examined
the proportion of those reporting discrimination grew, but the incidence of each area corresponds to the sequence of 2010. The greatest proportion of discrimination reported by people was in the workplace, the second largest was in the field of social and healthcare; in third place came trade and the use of services, and finally the least frequent occurrences were in the field of education and training. Overall, the proportion of discrimination suffered in these areas did not reach the level of 5%. The only exception was workplace hiring and selection, in connection with which 8.4% of respondents had experienced discrimination. At the time of the second questionnaire among the protected groups women reported discrimination in all four examined fields in a higher proportion than men. Among Roma respondents discrimination in the workplace was more than twice, and in the field of social and healthcare nearly four times the national average of the proportion of those perceiving discrimination. Regarding the use of services by people living with disabilities the greatest proportion of those perceiving discrimination was in transport.
Between 2012 and 2013 the proportion of those suffering discrimination grew by some five per cent, and this tendency is particularly valid over all our examined groups. Compared with the national average the proportion of those reporting discrimination was also higher among women, Roma and those living with disabilities. Additionally, among women it was more typical to have suffered discrimination in the workplace and in institutional settings than among men, and among Roma respondents it can be observed that compared with other groups in the sample the highest discrimination proportion can primarily be traced back to multiple, workplace and institutional discrimination, occurring together. Within the group of discriminated persons two thirds of respondents did not suffer discrimination on the grounds of just one, but on several grounds at the same time. A significant difference can be observed between women and men in this field, too. On average 0.98% of men and 1.42% of women were affected by discrimination on the grounds of protected categories, however, two thirds of respondents had never experienced discrimination in their lives. The proportion of multiple discrimination among people living with disabilities is close to twice, and among Roma people it is two and a half times the national average.
When respondents are divided on the basis of a combined variable into “discriminated” and “not discriminated” the group of discriminated persons amounts to close to two fifths of the entire sample, and within this one-third of men and 44% of women had experienced discrimination in the course of their lives. One of the important results of the research is that there is no significant difference when the discriminated and the not discriminated are divided according to the level of education, however the correlation between discrimination in employment and labour market status is strong. The proportion of unemployed persons among those who suffer discrimination is one and a half times that of those who do not suffer discrimination, and the proportion of employed is lower among them. It is in the world of work that true inequality is manifested in access to open-ended contracts. Casual and public workers are four times more frequently present among those suffering employment discrimination, and more than one in five of them is unemployed, which is twice that proportion of those who are not discriminated against.
When comparing the results of the two surveys it can be seen that considering almost every aspect, discrimination was less than in 2010, but the proportion of personally experienced discrimination and the proportion of harm had increased by 2013. We
determined this growing trend from the causes leading to discrimination, from various fields of discrimination regarding the entire life course and also for the experienced cases in the last twelve months. In addition to the growing trend, on some issues a structural transformation is indicated by the data. The most significant change regarding gender based discrimination was like that as well. That is: female respondents reported discriminatory events significantly more than in the previous survey. Within the group of women more critical behaviour of Roma women in connection with discriminatory occurrences than previously took form.
One of the most important lessons of our research however, is that personally suffered discrimination mostly remains hidden. While the 2013 figures did show a slight improvement when compared with the previous survey data, there was still a proportion of 17% of those who did not share any information about it with anyone, even if they had been discriminated against. If they did report this after all, then they did this in the first place in their family or in their circle of acquaintances: there were hardly any cases where somebody would have turned to an advocacy group, trade union, or authority. This low rate is not independent of the fact that the vast majority of people – including those who consider themselves the victims of some specific form of discrimination – do not even feel the need to be informed about what they might do in the event that they are discriminated against. In view of this passive and resigned attitude it is not surprising that only 20% of people thought that it would be worthwhile to report it, if someone is being discriminated. The majority, however believed that following a report “they could not do anything anyway,” “did not know who to turn to,” “the case was not so serious” that it would be worthwhile to report it, “it was not possible to change things,” or the person was “afraid that they would get into an even worse situation”. It seems that essentially only a few cases reached any official forums, where the victims of discrimination or their direct helper or supporter knew the legal or other options and, consequently, likely that to take practical steps in connection with the report not to be an impossible task for them either.
The results of both research surveys show that knowledge of the law prohibiting discrimination and protecting the right to equal treatment is present in very different degrees in the different social groups. While the actual experiences of discrimination personally experienced had no effect on knowledge of the law, we found correlations between certain types of discrimination and knowledge of the law. Those who by their own admission had been discriminated against on the grounds of their mother tongue, age, maternity/paternity, political views, sexual orientation, gender identity, employment status, disability, or because of their nationality knew the law to quite a higher degree than the average. At the same time, however, we found roughly average rates or below in the groups of those suffering discrimination on the grounds of race, skin colour, or belonging to a minority group. The vast majority belonging to the latter group are those who identify as Roma, so in summary we can say that knowledge of (existence of) the law is well below average among the Roma. Based on both research surveys it is clearly shown that Roma people are affected most by discrimination and yet they are the ones who are least aware of their rights, illustrating very well that they are in a clearly disadvantaged position.
While knowledge of the specific provisions of the law and of the possibility of obtaining legal redress in the population is shallow, the majority of respondents (83%) consider the issues of discrimination and equal treatment important.
In the autumn of 2010 out of every ten adults in the Hungarian population there were three who had already heard about the Equal Treatment Authority. Two and a half years later, in the spring of 2013 that proportion has risen to 46%, which can be considered a very significant change. The proportion grew in essentially every demographic group, but in the case of those with higher education a growth of thirty percentage points was measured (from 42% to 72%), in the 25 to 29 years of age cohort there was a twenty-eight percentage point change and among those living in Budapest a twenty-three percentage point positive change was observed, but a growth of a few percentage points could also be observed for those with low education, those living in villages, unemployed persons and elderly people, who in 2010 could be found at the end of the list.
More than a third of the people interviewed in the study – especially those between 25 and 50 years of age, with medium or higher levels of education and those living in Budapest – had come across the advertisements of the campaign on the topic of equal treatment in some way. In the case of advertisements television was the most important transmission channel: the advertisements shown on national television were known to thirty per cent of people, while in the case of every other source this fraction hardly reached a few per cent.
All in all, therefore, we regard the appearance of two simultaneous trends probable. While it is likely that the proportion of discriminatory experiences is really growing in the population, and particularly so in certain affected groups – primarily among Roma people, women and people living with disabilities – there is a slightly increasing awareness of discrimination, at least among the relatively more advantaged social groups. The increase in general discrimination is obviously correlated with the labour market situation and the increasingly negative trends over several years, the on-going competition for a few vacant jobs, which clearly takes persons belonging to disadvantaged groups into a more difficult position. On the other hand, in the recent past, as has been confirmed in the chapter on rights awareness, the proportion of those who are more aware of their rights guaranteed by law and are better able to recognise – and speak up – when they are being discriminated against, has increased. It is an unfortunate fact that even though members of the most vulnerable groups recognise the various forms of the ever increasing rates of discrimination against them, yet they themselves are hardly able to obtain legal redress – while majority society does not help them so that the guarantees of the Act on Equal Treatment Law and Equal Opportunities would provide real protection for them.
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