Using Participatory, Visual and Biographical Methods with Roma Youth

Oana Marcu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article deals with drug use by young Roma as members of a marginalized population. It reflects on the use of collages and of metaphor analysis on images produced by participants within an action-research approach. Additionally, various stakeholders were involved in a participatory manner in defining research questions, priorities and strategies. In order to understand young Roma's perceptions on drugs, 23 visual focus groups and 58 life-story interviews were conducted in five European countries. In the focus groups, young people built collages to represent drugs and then explained their meanings. Metaphor analysis was used to analyze the data. With the biographical interviews, histories of consumption from drug users were gathered. Among the trends identified are the early onset of tobacco use, exposure to consumption of alcohol by adults, underestimation of the consequences of many drugs, addiction to injecting drug use in specific areas. Gender roles are strongly associated with patterns of consumption. Roma young people also express belonging and reclaim positive social status by using certain types of drugs and by sharing consumption patterns with non-minority young people. The research process also illustrates how qualitative research can contribute to selective prevention programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Roma youth
  • addiction
  • biographical interviews
  • drug use
  • focus groups
  • metaphor analysis
  • visual methods


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