Building a ‘bridge’ of justice: Simmel’s view to overcome otherness towards a democratic world

Pedro Jorge da Costa Caetano, Maria Manuela Mendes

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With the purpose of contextualizing in sociological terms the pervasive discrimination that Gypsies/Roma people are continuously suffering in Portugal, we explore here some contributions of Simmel's epistemological analysis, mainly from his texts Bridge and Door, Excursus on the Stranger and The Lye, the latter concerning secret societies. In this sense, it is examined how the spatial and social segregation of the Gypsies fosters the conservation of two perfectly rooted and separated moral orders. On the one hand, the Gypsy moral order, bearing on moral precepts that are based on Gypsy origins and traditions; some of them configuring a device marked by intra-ethnic secrecy as clear identity defence strategies against the assimilationist threat. On the other hand, the wider social order that penalizes gypsy people as an unreliable people. Furthermore, Gypsies also do not trust nonGypsies. Notwithstanding, and following Simmel's essay on lying, where he called on “enlightment” to “the removal of the untruths operating in social life” as “entirely democratic in character”, we argue that the existence of more social and educational opportunities for Gypsies is indispensable for the creation of a more just and solidary society. In order to investigate the conditions of possibility of a fairer and more inclusive society, we discuss the findings of an empirical investigation using a scenario-based questionnaire in 3 Portuguese secondary schools, with non-Roma students, about the best way to accommodate Roma school children in their own school. These findings point to two broad perspectives: the assimilation and individualization of the Gypsies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2019
Event14th Conference of the European Sociological Association: Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Sept 201923 Sept 2019


Conference14th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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