Slovensko Roma - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization and Political Organization. The only recognized authority is the father/husband within the domestic unit. Otherwise the Roma have an acephalous Organization based on local groups of about ten families. A local group is formed by a nucleus of married brothers, to which can be added bilateral kin, whose presence is more or less fluid. Every local group expects a commercial monopoly over the territory where it is camped and will be prepared to make sure it is observed. It is possible for a leader to emerge in a local group (usually one of the brothers), even though he is not officially recognized by all the members. For many Families nomadism is limited to movement from one local group to another.

Social Control and Conflict. The more serious conflicts arise from disagreements over marriages or commercial activities. The Roma do not have any formal council. The resolution of a conflict always results from a settlement obtained by mediators assigned by one of the two parties. For other matters, social control is spread widely: every head of family has a gun, which serves more as a deterrent against possible violence aimed at his own family than as an offensive instrument. A violent conflict is made official by pronouncing "Eat your dead!" against the other party. Thus the conflict is extended to the group that has the same dead "to respect," the core of which is a group of brothers. Often, the fear of having the formula pronounced against one is a good enough reason for settling a dispute immediately. Social control may also involve requesting non-Gypsy police intervention.

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