Transnational advocacy networks: the case of Roma mobilization in Macedonia and Serbia
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The purpose of this study is to ascertain and explain the effectiveness of Roma political activism in contesting state oppression in Macedonia and Serbia. More specifically, this thesis seeks to investigate the divergent treatment of Roma communities in the respective states by analyzing the role of state institutions, civil society, political parties and international organizations. The thesis seeks to provide a multi-level analysis of Roma mobilization in Macedonia and Serbia by addressing the domestic and international factors that influence Roma political activism, and relies on two main theoretical concepts within the social movement literature: the Political Opportunity Structure (POS) model and 'transnational advocacy networks.' The POS model is a comprehensive framework to assess if Roma political activism has been effective in Macedonia and Serbia. This study uses the following components to describe the domestic factors that may facilitate or constrain Romani activism in the respective states: state repression and/or facilitation, institutional access, influential domestic and international allies. This thesis attempts to provide a detailed analysis of movement dynamics by taking into account the inter-relationship between actors and contesting groups. The limitations of the domestic opportunity structure regarding Roma advocacy in Macedonia and Serbia are outlined by describing the political context concerning minority inclusion, institutional mechanisms, and NGO/political party activities. As domestic opportunity structures are 'closed,' Roma activists and NGOs seek international allies to influence and change domestic policy on Roma inclusion. This study, while recognizing the importance of other international initiatives, specifically focuses on various institutions of the European Union as the main international actor influencing Roma inclusion policies in Eastern Europe. The thesis outlines the main EU initiatives on Roma inclusion to provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges in the international arena. Furthermore, it analyzes the interaction between international and civil society organizations assessing the effectiveness of the 'transnational advocacy networks.' Finally, the thesis provides a comparative analysis of Roma political activism in Macedonia and Serbia, indicating coordinated action has not been successful.