Resilience and Resignation among Transnational Roma and non-Roma Youths (RETRY)

RETRY is an ethnographic research project that inquires into the impact of welfare policies, community strategies, and personal ties on the future of disadvantaged youths 'affected by mobility' 

RETRY is a 36-month EU-funded research project conducted in three countries: United Kingdom, Spain and Romania. It aims at developing a theoretically informed, in-depth ethnographic understanding of the drivers of educational and post-educational marginality and inclusion in contemporary Europe, looking in particular at the movements into adulthood of disadvantaged youths 'affected by mobility'. 

RETRY addresses the question of whether, and under what conditions, their trajectories reproduce structural inequalities or disclose broader processes of social transformation through the elaboration of a spatial and relational theory of resilience and resignation in youth. 

The theory aims to unveil the complex interplay of structural constraints and individual agency that shapes the multiple interactions between social mobility, social capital, spatial mobility and social protection.

Aims of the research

RETRY will addresses specific questions vis-à-vis the impact of welfare policies, community strategies, and personal tieson the transitions of young people striving to overcome structural inequalities and to navigate towards their desirable futures in a changing and unstable environment:

How are European welfare regimes navigated, and what does youth mobility reveal about their inability or unwillingness to provide social protection and social mobility?

Migration may represent an alternative path to achieve social mobility, but it can also be associated with impediments to access social rights. RETRY aims to understand how European welfare systems ensure social rights to their mobile citizens and under what conditions is it possible to talk about a 'spatiality of rights'. 

Which alternative strategies are implemented to cope with social insecurity in a context of mobility?

In order to negotiate the obstacles posed by insecurity, young people mobilise alternative sources of social protection. RETRY tackle the question of what kinds of transnational fields are created by individual and collective social protection arrangements, and enquires into their transformative potential.

How, and under what conditions, do underprivileged youths growing up in migrancy use their mobility capital to set in motion upward social mobility careers?

The issue of whether spatial mobility constitutes an asset or not for young people remains unexplored. RETRY addresses this gap by looking at the role of the social capital available in the transnational space in shaping and achieving upward social mobility.  


RETRY aims to combines ethnography with a variety of approaches and methods, including multi-sited methods, on-line ethnography, participatory methods and audio-visual methods.

  • The adoption of a 'mobility lens' gives the opportunity to transcend methodological nationalism and embrace a transnational, actor-centred perspective. This approach blurs the distinction between urban, domestic, and international mobility, and consider movement and stasis as complementary phenomena.
  • The focus on Roma youths allows for considering the impact of Romaphobia and Roma-targeted policies on youth transitions. Non-Roma peers living in the same districts and sharing similar experiences of im/mobility are also included in the research because their biographies may challenge the representation of Roma as socially excluded and culturally separated from the majority society.
  • Fieldwork includes participant observation with disadvantaged Roma and non-Roma youths with different experiences of im/mobility, and is coupled with in-depth interviews with significant adults (parents, neighbours, teachers, social workers, activists).
  • The employment of mobile methods allows to move beyond the experience of migrants themselves and reveal the unobserved, transformative effects of international mobility in the societies of origin, in particular among returned or non-migrant youth endowed with different experiences, memories and dreams of im/mobility.
  • The use of social networks and on-line ethnography is used to observe how the emotional and cognitive gaps triggered by mobility are negotiated, and also how community networks and identities are created, preserved, and reproduced in the transnational space.
  • During the RETRY project, two young participants are recruited as co-inquirers: they contribute to design fieldwork activities and to collect, analyse and disseminate research data. The adoption of participatory methods aims to establish more equal relations, adapt the research questions to their needs and interests and challenge the representation of disadvantage young people as vulnerable/threatening subjects.
  • RETRY will employ audio-visual methods as a source of ethnographic data, as a means to engage the interest of the research participants, and an experimental space of co-writing.

Research team

Dr Stefano Piemontese

Dr Stefano Piemontese

Research Fellow

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology

Stefano Piemontese joined the Institute for Research into Superdiversity as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow working on the project Resilience and Resignation among Transnational Roma and non-Roma Youths (2019-2022). Currently, he is a Research Fellow and Member of the Executive Team for the project Improving the Living and Labour Conditions of Irregularised Migrant ...


Professor Nando Sigona

Professor Nando Sigona

Chair of International Migration and Forced Displacement
Director of IRiS

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology

Professor Nando Sigona has over twenty years of research experience in the field of migration and forced displacement.

He is Chair of International Migration and Forced Displacement at the University of Birmingham, UK where he teaches sociology of migration, displacement and citizenship. He is the Director of the Institute for Research into International Migration and Superdiversity(IRIS). ...

+44(0)121 415 8030


Resilience and Resignation among Transnational Roma and non-Roma Youths (RETRY) is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement n° 846645. 

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RETRY on the European Commission’s CORDIS website 

Three migrants in a boat looking towards the lnd