Glossary

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  • Dominant ideology: the dominant thought system or predominant set of ideas and values at the socio-cultural level, reflecting and maintaining the interests of those in power. It justifies the economic, social and political order on which power is based and it shapes the perceptions of individuals on themselves and those around them. It is internalised unconsciously by each of us, so that we do not realize how much these ideas and values shape and limit our lives and justify inequality of power.
  • Hierarchy: the classification of a group of people according to ability or to economic, social, or professional standing (Websters); a system of subordination of inferior elements, grades, functions, authorities etc. to those superior to them.
  • Ideology refers to producing meaning and significance. It can be described as a way to see the world, a complex of ideas, different types of social practices, rituals and representations that we tend to accept as natural. Ideology has at any moment both negative and positive functions. The positive function is to offer concepts, categories, images and ideas through which people create the meaning of the social and political world they live in, they form projects and act; the negative function of ideology refers to the situations when all these perspectives, that are inevitably selective, are not taken as such and questioned.
  • Intersectionality is a theory searching to examine the ways in which various categories built socially and culturally interact on multiple levels to create different forms of inequality in society. Intersectionality sustains the idea that the classic models of oppression, such as those based on “race”, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class or (dis)ability do not act independently of each other but inter-relate and thus create oppression systems reflecting the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.
  • Meritocracy is a system of governance or organization in which appointment for different positions and responsibility correspond to individuals of corresponding talent and demonstrated ability and not based on their fortune (plutocracy), origin, family ties (nepotism) or other factors that determine their social position and political power. In a meritocracy, society rewards (through wealth, position and social statute) talent and competence demonstrated in past actions and competition. Meritocracy is also the term used to describe and criticize a competition-based society that accepts inequitable discrepancies of income, fortune and social position, depending on talent, merit, competence, motivation and effort, without taking into account the ones who do not posses the means (material, educational, etc) to develop their talents, their competence, their capacity for effort, etc.
  • Neocolonialism: This term has been used for a variety of actions that came with the de-colonizing efforts following the Second World War. Generally it does not refer to colonialism per se, but to colonialism through different means. It specifically condemns the relations between strong and weaker states which are assimilated to colonialist exploitation to the advantage of strong states without them having to build and maintain colonies in the classical sense. These charges focus on the economic relations imposed onto weak states as well as the interference of strong states into the politics of weaker ones.
  • Neoliberalism: Neoliberalism consists essentially in organizing and governing every aspect of human existence after the rules of the economy, the market and profit.
    The main aspects of neoliberalism include:
    – the rule of the market. Liberating private initiative from any constraints from the state, irrespective of the social damage caused. An increased availability for international exchanges and investments (such as the NAFTA treaty). Reducing payment through a weakening of trade unions and the elimination of workers’ rights, earned after many years of efforts. Renouncing price control. Complete freedom of movement for capital, goods or services.
    – ceasing public payment for social services such as education and health. Reducing the network of social safety for the poor and even for the maintenance of infrastructure (roads, bridges, water reserves).
    – deregulation. Reducing governmental regulation of any aspect that might diminish profits, including the protection of the environment and the safety of work places.
    – privatisation. Selling all state enterprises, goods and services to private investors – including banks, key industries, railroads, highways, electricity, schools, hospitals, water.
    – eliminating the concept of “public good” or “community” and replacing them with “individual responsibility” for medical care, education and social security.
    Neoliberalism was imposed world-wide by financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The first clear example of neoliberalism occurred in Chile (connected with Milton Friedman’s theories, piloted by the Chicago school), after the coup against the Allende regime (democratically elected in 1983), supported by the CIA.
    The rapid globalisation of the capitalist economy projected neoliberalism on a global scale.
  • Patriarchy: the most simple way to define the patriarchy is as men leading society and controlling resources. The institutions, norms and practices of a patriarchal society tacitly reflect men’s needs, logic and way of interacting. As understood by feminism, the term patriarchy incorporates more complex connotations resulting from questioning the legitimacy of the rules operating in society after a (exclusively) masculine logic or otherwise dictated by a masculine outlook. Implicitly, such a social order implies gender inequality (feminine inferiority and masculine normative superiority), hierarchy and subordination. It sustains the idea that there is always a superior opinion or solution, and does not accept pluralism.
    Feminism aims to change the patriarchal nature of society and turn it into a society without domination and oppression. Women’s circumstances are dictated by different categories such as geographic region, social class and “race”, and the most adequate term to describe these different experiences of oppression is patriarchies.
  • Precarious work means insecure contracts, part-time or for limited amounts of time (or working without a contract), low wages, no social security. It is insufficiently paid to make a living and ensure a minimum level of security. Precarious work is temporary, discontinuous, random, uncertain, demanding maximum flexibility on the employee’s part, so as to enable the employer to maximize profits and reduce risks. In the last few decades, precarious labour in post-industrial states is a growing phenomenon. In less developed economies, and for certain categories of people, precarious labour has always been the norm.
  • “Race”: The idea of “race” is a social construct, having no scientific fundament. This term is derived from erroneous 19th century “scientific” formulations, as well from older philosophical traditions. It is a human invention whose differentiation criterion is neither universal, nor scientific – but which has always been used to exploit differences. Human “race” is not genetically possible – nor is there proof that it ever was. From the genetic point of view, humanity cannot be grouped into distinct geographic categories.
  • Romophobia (anti-Gypsyism, anti-Romaism) is a specific form of racist ideology, a complex social phenomenon manifesting itself through violence, hate speech, exploitation and discrimination in most visible forms, and it is a form of dehumanisation and institutionalised racism. Romophobia is promoted via politicians’ speeches, via the ideas and actions of a faction of the civil society and some academia, through segregation, dehumanisation, stigmatisation, social aggression and socio-economic exclusion. Romophobia relies, on one hand, on imaginary fears, stereotypes and negative myths related to Roma people and, on the other hand, on denigration of Roma people and erasing from the public awareness the long history of discrimination that Roma have. (Valeriu Nicolae, „Anti-Gypsyism – a definition” www.ergonetwork.org/antigypsyism.htm)
  • Social class is the result of a hierarchical organization of society into economic or cultural groups. In sociology and political philosophy, the most basic “class” distinction is between the powerful and the powerless. In Marxist theory and historical materialism, social class is created by the fundamentally economic structuring of labour and property. Several social and political theories consider that social classes with greater power try to consolidate their own advantages over lower social classes (lower in the social hierarchy), to the detriment of society as a whole.
  • The transition period: In these sheets the transition period refers to the period in which Romania changed its system from communism to neoliberalism. The transition period (that could be counted between 1989 and 2007, the year when Romania joined the European Union) was the period when the reforms that made the transformation from centralized communist economy to market economy were put into practice. The transition period was characterized by the massive privatization of industry and housing, by the dismantling of industries that couldn’t function outside the centralized economic system, by transformations of institutions such as the education, health and legislative systems, all these having deep effect on all aspects of life.
  • The welfare state: A model in which the state is the chief party which assumes responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. This responsibility should theoretically be complete in all its aspects and due to all citizens, as a right. The welfare state can also mean creating a “social security network” as well as minimum welfare standards.

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