• MisMie

Methods and Research Lines

At the start of the project, drawing on initial exploratory data, the research team worked to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the concept of misrecognition. We define misrecognition as situations in which one’s sense of identity is contradicted by others. These experiences can take several forms, such as rejecting to acknowledge membership of a shared social group or a valued identity (e.g., ‘you are not a real German’), imposing a lone identity without consideration for the diverse identities one might have depending on the specific context (e.g., ‘you are always seen as Muslim’ rather than as an engineer in the workplace), ascribing qualities – usually negative – based on identity (e.g., ‘you are a Muslim so you must be a terrorist’), and disregarding the group’s very existence (e.g., ‘you have no voice in our social and political debates’).


Between 2019 and 2021, we carried out a set of empirical studies. The project followed a mixed-methods approach to explore the multiple facets, antecedents, and consequences of misrecognition. Despite the pandemic, we were able to pursue our research questions using the planned mix of quantitative (i.e., experiments, surveys) and qualitative (i.e., interviews, diaries, [digital] walkthroughs) methods. Below, we detail the main results, achievements, deviations from the initial plan, and future publication plans.

The teams in UK, Hungary and Germany conducted a series of experimental studies to examine how the experience of misrecognition and surveillance impacts relations to the surveilling authorities and willingness to cooperate with them. These experiments aim to explore the relations between minority status, surveillance, influence and relationship towards authority. In Hungary, two experiments are conducted to measure the effects of misrecognition on willingness to cooperate with authorities or alternatively, join anti-authority groups. The experiments are conducted within university settings, and misrecognition is manipulated by making existing negative stereotypes about the groups salient and suggesting that these question belongingness. We expected the effects would be stronger among high identifiers who are more sensitive to experiences of misrecognition. The team in Germany is in the process of conducting more experiments that examine the ways in which misrecognised Muslims in Germany make sense of their experiences of misrecognition and how these experiences influence their trust in and desire for contact with the German majority. The team therefore looks at the different possible causal attributions certain minorities make to the misrecognizing person. Moreover, we claim that misrecognition is a stressful experience because the misrecognizer is often a member of the dominant group in a given society. This assumption is therefore being looked at in the experiments by manipulating the group membership of the misrecognizer. The German team also examines the impact of different ramifications (i.e., being barred from tangible or symbolic benefits) of being misrecognized on the way in which people experience misrecognition and respond to it.

The teams in France and the Netherlands examine how people are treated on adopting a symbol of minority identity, how the assumptions and reactions of others relate to their own sense of self, the extent to which there is misrecognition, how they understand these experiences, and – critically - how these people are affected by these experiences. For this, the French and Dutch teams conducted focus groups interviews with Muslim women wearing the headscarf in France and the Netherlands. Additionally, in order to examine if the choice of not wearing a headscarf could be linked to an anticipation of misrecognition, Muslim women who do not wear a headscarf participated as well in focus groups interviews in the Netherlands.

The teams in two countries, France and Germany, will first look at radicalized Muslim persons who have turned to violence and examine whether misrecognition played a role in their trajectory towards the extreme. Our main question here is: Have those who advocate conflict against society and authority experienced misrecognition and, if so, did any of these experiences played a role in their radicalization? Here we would analyse the different interrelated elements in their biographical paths that may have play a role in their radicalization processes. To this end, the German team interviewed two de-radicalized individuals in Vienna using the narrative interview technique. Second, we will follow the question: How does misrecognition appear in the online material published by radicalized individuals? To answer this question, the French and German teams will …. Critically, our aim here is not to suggest that there is something unique about Islam that tends towards radicalism, but rather whether to analyze if there is something in the way that the mainstream views, treats and excludes Muslims that leads a small minority along a radical path.

In France, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania and Serbia, we will conduct a survey amongst Muslims and Roma people to examine how the experiences of misrecognition affect the relations with the authorities in the respective countries. The survey seeks to shed light on the impact that misrecognition amongst minority group members has on conflict with and estrangement from the majority society and the state authorities. The survey is expected to be launched in July 2020.

In this part of the project, we are interested in the impact of surveillance on recognition: does a sense of being watched – whether by individuals or by authorities and via technologies – lead to a sense of misrecognition? and hence to a sense of estrangement from society? Our aim is to gather some minorities’ experiences in order to spark a wider public debate about how the gaze of others shapes who we are and what we do. Specifically, in United Kingdom, we interviewed persons who perceive themselves as belonging to the Muslim community, while accompanying them as they go about their everyday business. In Hungary, we conducted interviews with members of Roma NGOs to reflect on this phenomenon based on their own experiences and regarding the Roma community and recorded everyday experiences of misrecognition with the help of Roma people with GoPro cameras and body cams. Sixteen Roma men and women participated in the project that was carried out as a collaboration between the Eötvös Loránd University (on behalf of the MisMiE team) and CEU from Budapest. Participants were instructed to record everyday experiences of misrecognition following a one-day workshop. The workshop offered them technical and legal assistance and some instructions on how to use GoPro cameras and body cams for recording. The footage was edited by Jeremy Braverman and Ádám Hushegyi (CEU) and additional interviews were recorded with the participants. The videos covered experiences of discrimination and misrecognition in the context of shopping and renting apartments. The videos will be used as part of our focus group research to be conducted where we address how these videos can be used as part of intervention programs. Please go to our “Empirical Results” section to learn more about the preliminary results of the project.

In a second phase, a new online walkthrough study will be conducted in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Here, similar data as in the walkthrough interviews will be collected, but on a larger scale. The main aim of the study is to identify locations where people feel accepted (recognized) and where they feel unaccepted (misrecognized) as being part of their national group. For example, where do Dutch Muslims feel fully accepted as being Dutch, and where do they feel unaccepted as Dutch? To do so, an online survey is developed in which participants select these two locations on an interactive map (Google Maps), and answer questions about these locations. The questions refer to what happened, why they felt (un-)accepted, the emotions the memory elicit, by whom they felt (un-)accepted, how they reacted, and importantly what would help them feel more accepted. Participants are Dutch Muslims living in Amsterdam, French Muslims living in Paris, and German Muslims living in Dortmund or Cologne. Through this study, we aim to develop an interesting map of the cities with locations where people feel (mis)recognized and the reactions these experiences incite.

Drawing on the Qualitative Content Analysis and Grounded Theory Coding method, our team in Germany looked for instances of misrecognition’s dynamics within a WhatsApp-protocol of a group of young radicals, who committed a bombing attack in Germany. The questions leading this analysis focus on the role of surveillance in and outside the group’s interrelations, on the identities’ performances of the in-group members, and on the power relations and leadership practices among the members. 

Studies and Results

The MisMiE project aimed to develop an understanding of misrecognition as a preeminent everyday experience in the lives of minority groups in Europe. Our conceptual focus was both on the antecedents of misrecognition and its consequences (notably in terms of estrangement, disengagement, and radicalisation against the mainstream society). As for our empirical focus, it was on the processes of misrecognition amongst Muslims in western Europe (Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) and Roma people in eastern Europe (Hungary, Serbia, and Romania).

The first phase was highly focused on the topics of misrecognition and estrangement.

This research was conducted by our teams in France, Hungary, and the Netherlands. Our teams in France and the Netherlands explored the experiences of Muslim women, and our team in Hungary explored the experiences of Roma people. In France, the team conducted ten focus groups with Muslim women who wear the hijab. Each focus group was composed of a minimum of three and a maximum of six participants, amounting to a total of 46 participants. In the Netherlands, the team conducted five focus groups with a total of 32 participants, most of them with a Moroccan background and identifying as Muslim. All focus group sessions were conducted in the national language of the country involved.  


The main finding of the French and Dutch teams was that members of the majority population regarded the hijab as a sign of foreignness, leading to misrecognition of Muslim women as foreigners even though they identify as French or Dutch. Their experiences of misrecognition appeared as recurrent intersectional violence, in which gender and culture operated simultaneously to produce specific forms of misrecognition, culminating in limiting their employment and education opportunities, and impacting their emotional health (e.g., fear) and well-being. Our findings identified “hijabophobia” (Geisser, 2010) as a form of intersectional misrecognition directed specifically against women. Moreover, in France “hijabophobia” was perceived as more prominent and widespread compared to other countries (Canada, United Kingdom, etc.).


Under the circumstances mentioned above, the choice to wear a headscarf was associated with a range of behaviours (ingratiation, avoidance, resignation, challenging, identity claims) in which anticipation was key: anticipation that wearing the headscarf would increase their misrecognition by non-Muslim French/Dutch, and at the same time, pressures to fulfil their own, and fellow Muslims’, headscarf-related expectations.


In similar vein, our team based in Hungary conducted six focus groups, which found that experiences of everyday misrecognition are closely connected to overt forms of discrimination (e.g., not letting Roma people enter clubs or making it difficult to rent an apartment), as well as more subtle ones (e.g., treating Roma people with suspicion). These experiences affect whether and how Roma people feel part of Hungarian society. Furthermore, experiences of racialised misrecognition (see Xie et al., 2021) are extremely common, and racism is often internalised. Hence, some Roma people feel it is their responsibility to educate people about racism in an effort to challenge it. To complement this study, the Hungarian team also carried out fourteen additional interviews with Roma experts and laypeople, seeking to understand how Roma people make sense of everyday experiences of misrecognition. The team – in collaboration with the Media Lab of the Central European University – created three advocacy videos (and six videos that can be used for interventions), with the goal of broader dissemination about the topic within the national sphere.

In Germany, the team analysed experiences of misrecognition and surveillance in a WhatsApp conversation in a group of twelve radicalized young men who planned to commit a violent attack in Germany (two members actually did carry out such an attack in 2016). The analysis was conducted in two phases, using content analysis (Mayring, 2015; Kuckartz, 2014) followed by open coding (based on Grounded Theory: Charmaz, 2006). The main findings suggested that awareness of official surveillance and being subject to police investigation reinforced the group’s estrangement from “outgroups” and increased the members’ commitment and belonging to their ingroup. Moreover, these experiences also led some members to suppress their identities in public. Regarding emotions, fear, anxiety and empathy were found, mostly expressed through emojis. Members who occupied leadership roles controlled and monitored the group’s identity (e.g., “being a good Muslim”, membership boundaries) and ensured that security measures were observed. Finally, the role of misrecognition is highly intertwined with boundary-making and belonging processes within the dynamics of the ingroup (group members) and everyday outgroups (family, schoolmates and teachers, other Muslims). 

The MisMiE team based in the United Kingdom conducted walkthrough interviews with Muslim and non-Muslim participants to explore primary concepts including surveillance and misrecognition. Certain formal types of surveillance (police but not CCTV) were found to be occasional sites of misrecognition for Muslim participants. Informal types of surveillance, particularly the ‘gaze’ of non-Muslim people and the media, were more salient. The walkthrough interviews found no evidence that Muslims found surveillance technology (e.g., CCTV cameras) intrusive or threatening.


The walkthrough interviews identified various forms of everyday inclusion and exclusion experienced by Muslims in Scotland. While some of these were very explicit (e.g., Islamophobic abuse), others were more subtle experiences in the sense of being made aware that they were seen as ‘other’: always being seen in terms of their Muslim identity (when other identities were more relevant in the situation); feeling their needs as Muslims were not catered for; feeling their identification with Scotland was questioned; feeling their Muslim identity was misunderstood and that they were accountable for other Muslims’ negative behaviour (e.g., terrorism). These findings confirm the multi-dimensional utility of the concept of misrecognition for shedding light on Muslims’ everyday experiences. Our data also highlighted the burden associated with trying to make sense of such experiences (e.g., the degree to which the experiences of misrecognition were due to individual vs system-wide beliefs about Muslims) and deciding how best to respond (e.g., ignoring or challenging). Taken together these findings broaden our understanding of the cumulative burdens experienced by minority group members in everyday life.


In Hungary, the walkthrough videos (five thematic videos compiled into three advocacy videos) and related interviews with experts (n=3) and lay participants (n=13) reveal that most Roma participants agreed that misrecognition is an important and significant experience in their everyday lives. Sixteen Roma participants attended the workshop we organized for the walkthrough participants to provide them with technical and legal guidance, and twelve made videos using GoPro cameras. Some participants agreed that the concept of misrecognition captured an important aspect of their life, whereas others reported only rarely experiencing such treatment. However, the latter group did actually recall many incidents that can be categorized as misrecognition, but they were so used to these, that they did not even consider them frequent. For example, one participant stated that they were not often stopped by police for routine “stop and search”, only about once a month. Considering that non-Roma people are almost never stopped by the police in such a way, once a month is extremely frequent, even if the participant experienced it as rare. It simply suggests a deep internalization of this type of treatment. Furthermore, participants explained that one specific harmful aspect of misrecognition (unlike open forms of discrimination) is that it is often impossible to communicate with non-Roma people. Part of the traumatic effect is connected precisely to the lack of acknowledgement. Related to this, participants who prepared the video walkthroughs chose to record instances of misrecognition that captures discriminatory practices as well. These ranged from open discrimination in the area of housing, when estate agents openly refuse to show apartments to Roma people, to differential treatment of Roma customers in shops or a security guard scrutinizing Roma shoppers.


The walkthroughs in Hungary (see Focus Group section) and the walkthrough interviews in Scotland highlighted the particular role surveillance plays in the experiences of the Roma and Scottish Muslim populations and draw attention to the pervasiveness and negative effects of these experiences.

The MisMiE Team based in Germany conducted narrative interviews with two young men who exited from the radical scene in Vienna. This was achieved with the support of the NGO TURN Verein. Our main goal was to explore whether and how misrecognition was experienced by people participating in radical milieus. The interviews were analysed using the open coding method (Charmaz, 2006). It was found that recognition by others and the sense of belonging to various ingroups, are central for their sense of self. While we cannot be certain that misrecognition played a role in the radicalization of these young men, we did find that misrecognition experiences were present when our interviewees were young and that such experiences framed their sense of belonging in adolescence. These experiences of discrimination and exclusion later played a central role in involvement in radical milieus.

Our teams based in Hungary and the United Kingdom each produced a series of advocacy videos. The team based in Hungary produced three advocacy videos in collaboration with members of the Media Lab of the Central European University which were later used in six focus groups. The purpose of the videos was to show how Roma people make sense of everyday experiences of misrecognition and to raise awareness about it in mainstream society. The three videos showed three types of discrimination ranging from explicit to more disguised forms. The videos were shot by Roma participants using GoPro cameras and bodycams following a one-day workshop where they received technical training, legal guidance and the opportunity to discuss the concept of misrecognition (see details above). They were later interviewed by a film crew to reflect on the experiences they captured. One of the videos was withdrawn from public viewing because of fear of retaliation. The other two videos were disseminated on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCJAouIqw0BDiPBAVsn6gRA) and embedded in an article by an independent online news portal. As a result, the videos had over 60 thousand views.


The Scottish team also produced three films. These were based on the interviews conducted during the first phase of the project (two films) and the second phase (one film) (see details above).


The three films had a common focus: Muslims’ everyday experiences of acceptance and prejudice. The films featured several ordinary members of the Muslim community in Scotland reading out selected extracts from the interviews we conducted. The selected extracts referred to both positive and negative experiences that took place. However, the selection was also designed to convey the complexity of their negative experiences. In addition to the readings of the quotes, the films had a simple narration that provides a structure and coherent message.


The focus of the first film (entitled ‘Being Muslim in Scotland: Everyday experiences of acceptance and rejection’) was on the diverse ways in which Muslims report how their belonging in Scotland is communicated by others. In the second (entitled ‘Being Muslim in Scotland: The burden of prejudice’), the focus was on how Muslims have to constantly interpret others’ behaviour and what it says about the degree to which they are accepted. So whilst the first film covered Muslims’ experiences of interactions (from verbal insults about ‘Muslim terrorists’ to surprise at the fact that one speaks with a Scottish accent), the second addressed the burden of having to negotiate the threat of prejudice by modifying one’s appearance (e.g., clothing, beard) and managing the complexity of confronting and challenging other people’s stereotypes. The third film (entitled ‘Being Muslim in Scotland: Life in the pandemic’) focused on Muslims’ experience of the pandemic. In particular, it considered how the pandemic has provided a context in which issues of acceptance and belonging have been accentuated as Muslims’ behaviour (especially compliance with COVID-19–related restrictions) and come under increased surveillance. On the one hand, Muslims reported concerns that the Muslim community may be scapegoated for individuals’ failure to observe social distancing regulations and presented as an alien community whose cultural practices represent a threat to the wider society. On the other hand, they reported that the pandemic provided an opportunity for Muslims to demonstrate their citizenship through their community service (e.g., in the health system).

This study was conducted in Germany, the Netherlands, and France. Our main goal was to investigate ‘when, where, and how’ people experience (mis)recognition. Specifically, the team conducted an online survey, where participants indicated on an interactive map (Google Maps Streetview) where they had experienced misrecognition. Participants selected a location on the map, and an image of that location was viewed on Google. They explained what is depicted in the image, why they felt misrecognized there, and how this made them feel. We also asked the participants how they reacted in each situation. Regarding their misrecognition experiences, we explored participants’ views on the factors that helped them or might help them to feel more recognized. This new study makes several important contributions. The data not only allow to comparisons between Dutch/French/German Muslim experiences but also highlight how recognition occurs in public and private places. Moreover, we developed a new methodology to collect large visual data sets tzhat are usable in presentations and future studies. The online survey was conducted anonymously, and an artist recreated the national/regional/city level Google Maps images. This approach was selected for two reasons: First, it ensured that publication would not lead to a media campaign blaming the stated places (for example a school in Paris). That was not the goal of the study, which sought to draw attention to the phenomena of misrecognition, not to stereotype places. Second, it ensured the anonymity of the participants. Fictionalizing and redrawing the places (i.e., like a school) diminished these risks.


In Germany, the study was conducted with 203 Muslim participants. As a core finding, various mechanisms connected to the feelings of unacceptance were identified:

The visualisation of or reduction to an identity that is irrelevant (in the context) , e.g. thematization of origin or religion based on skin colour, hair, headscarf or name.
Negative attributions concerning identities (uneducated, backward, oppressed, unsuited, criminal, terrorist), that generate pressure to justify oneself or one’s ascribed category.
Micro-aggressions like allusions, indirect negative comments, or intense gazing also lead to social and physical exclusion.
Overt aggression like insults and physical attacks.


Mechanisms for feelings of acceptance were also identified:

No visualisation of origin or religion, thus no feelings of difference.
A focus on the individual human with its unique characteristics and competencies.


Participants stressed that “being German” can mean a lot of things and that it would be critically important to call out Islamophobia and racism when observed. Some said that they would have felt less misrecognized in the situation if others had stood up for them, defended them and showed solidarity. They recommended avoiding unnecessary questions if not relevant in the context and focussing on the individual and their personality and skills.


In France, the study was conducted with 158 Muslim participants. Participants identified places in and around Paris where they felt accepted or unaccepted as French. They felt accepted mostly in private places (parks, streets) and educational settings, and unaccepted in public places and their workplaces. Acceptance encompassed different experiences, such as being accepted as a person or having one’s difference accepted, as well as the mere absence of aggressive behaviour (negative gaze, insults). Unacceptance meant being treated as a foreigner; with aggressiveness, especially focusing on the headscarf; being perceived as lacking intelligence and/or as oppressed because of wearing a headscarf.


In the Netherlands, the study was conducted with 174 Muslim participants. Similar to France, participants mentioned feeling accepted at culturally diverse places (e.g., shopping streets with people from various backgrounds, larger cities) and unaccepted at predominantly white places (e.g., universities, smaller cities). When the data was examined in greater detail, this pattern also showed up within cities. In Amsterdam for example, neighbourhoods with a relatively large Muslim population (Amsterdam-West) were identified as places where participants felt accepted. In areas where fewer Muslims live (e.g., Amsterdam-South), more experiences of unacceptance were reported.

Experiments were conducted in Germany, Scotland, and Hungary.


In Germany, we conducted a series of experiments were we manipulated identity denial, a dimension of misrecognition. Using online studies, Muslim participants from Germany were led to believe that the researcher team hired a company that would check the quality of the participant’s initial answers to demographic questions that included a question about their religion. A fictitious person ostensibly working for this company communicated with participants via an online chat. This person actually did not exist and the online survey was programmed to deliver specific “text passages” to the participants. During this communication, this fictitious person denied their German identity (on the basis that they identified as Muslim in the initial demographic questions). Three studies with this method were conducted with approximately 430 participants, with a Muslim background, in each study. In Study 1, we manipulated the identity of the person who denied the German identity of the participants to test our hypothesis that denial affects minority members when it is enacted by members of the majority, the group that predominantly defines inclusion of immigrants. We found that identity denial by a German fictitious person was met with more negative reactions than denial by a Turkish-German fictitious person. In Study 2, we varied the context in which denial happens to examine how nationalist cues compared to benevolent and neutral cues affect Muslim participants coping with denial. Denial (vs no denial) by a German fictitious person in the nationalist condition (i.e., a bogus person wearing a face mask coloured with the German flag), caused participants for whom being seen as German is important, to opt for engagement in collective action to challenge denial of Muslims over individual mobility (i.e., passing into the majority). In Study 3, we compared the two conditions of official denial and official recognition by the researcher team with two conditions of denial and recognition by a fictious person. Preliminary analysis found no difference between official denial and official recognition. Finally, 2 experiments (N = 450 each) were conducted among members of the German majority in which we examined different interventions to reduce the German majority’s defensive reaction to being confronted with prejudicial attitudes (mentioning to Muslim Germans: “you speak German very well”). In Study 5, German participants were exposed to criticism about prejudice by a Muslim bogus person using a vignette. When the criticism involved moral affirmation (e.g., Germans have good intentions) and agency affirmation (e.g., Germans are intelligent), criticism was met with less defensiveness compared to the control group. We found the more participants were perpetrator sensitive, the more the moral affirmation message was effective in reducing defensiveness, but not the other interventions. Study 6 examined reactions to such criticism in a bogus chat interaction where participants from the German majority group interacted with a Turkish-German bogus person who confronted them of their prejudice. In this direct interaction, agency intervention was rather more successful than the moral intervention and the control message.


In Scotland, three experiments were conducted to explore how surveillance (e.g., visual monitoring via a camera) could take on more negative meanings in the presence of a negative stereotype of one’s group. Specifically, we theorised that surveillance accompanied by a negative stereotype of one’s group would accentuate participants’ sense of their group identity being unfairly judged as problematic and thus as warranting monitoring. In turn, we theorised that such an experience of misrecognition would contribute to feelings of alienation about the source of the stereotype/surveillance and result in reduced cooperation with that source.

Study 1 (N = 199) involved a 2 x 2 design in which we manipulated i. participants’ exposure to a negative characterisation of their group (exposure vs no exposure) and ii. participants’ experience of surveillance by those holding the negative image of their group (surveillance vs no surveillance). Participants then completed various measures of affective state, intergroup attitudes, intergroup cooperation, and identity misrecognition. We predicted exposure to surveillance and negative representations of their group would interact to increase negative affect, produce negative intergroup attitudes in relation to the source of the stereotype, result in a sense of identity misrecognition, and decrease intergroup cooperation with the source of the stereotype/surveillance. We also predicted that the effects of exposure to surveillance and negative representations of participants’ group membership on intergroup cooperation would be mediated by their effects on misrecognition. We found evidence of a 2 x 2 interaction on whether co-operation was offered. There was no impact of surveillance on cooperation when no negative stereotype was communicated, but when it was communicated then surveillance decreased engagement in the cooperation task. This was as predicted. However, this effect was not mediated by participants’ reported experience of misrecognition.

Study 2 (N = 299) involved the same basic design as above, with modifications and improvements to the delivery of the manipulations and some of the dependent measures. In this study, we found evidence of a 2 x 2 interaction on the level of cooperation offered. Yet, once again, this effect was not mediated by participants’ reported experience of misrecognition. More generally, we found that surveillance resulted in a decrease in engagement in the cooperation task even when no stereotype was communicated.

Study 3 (N = 733) involved the same basic design but again included modifications to the delivery of the manipulations and the measures. Specifically, we modified the measure of misrecognition so it more clearly referred to misrecognition by the source of the stereotype/surveillance. In this study, we found that surveillance reduced engagement in the co-operation task regardless of whether a stereotype was communicated. We did not find that communicating a negative stereotype impacted levels of cooperation directly. Instead, we found that the communication of a stereotype of participants’ group membership increased misrecognition; that the experience of misrecognition led to reduced cooperation with the source of the negative stereotype; and that the effect of a negative stereotype of one’s group in reducing cooperation with the source of that stereotype was mediated by participant’s experience of misrecognition.

Taken together, these studies show i. that the communication of a negative stereotype of one’s group can combine with the experience of surveillance to reduce cooperation (studies 1 and 2); and ii. that the communication of a negative stereotype of one’s group can result in reduced cooperation by engendering a sense of misrecognition (study 3). However, we also found that surveillance can have a direct effect on cooperation (regardless of whether surveillance is accompanied by a negative stereotype (study 2 and study 3).


And finally, in Hungary, we conducted experimental research to demonstrate the effect of misrecognition on attitudes toward authorities and collective action intentions. The study was conducted with N=129 participants. The context of the study was the misrecognition of students of one faculty (Sports Science) compared to others. We manipulated content misrecognition (i.e., low competence stereotype held by other university students) and belongingness misrecognition (mismatch to core university values according to other university students) and compared them to a control group. In an alleged competence test, all participants were assigned to the lowest level of competence, but participants in the three conditions were given different information for the reason for their assignment (low competence, mismatch to university values or randomly).

Before the manipulation, we measured identification with the university, and following the manipulation, we measured misrecognition (as a manipulation check), attitudes toward the university, intentions to reassert identity, intentions to join pro- and anti-university social media groups.

The results showed that the experience of misrecognition by peers among university students led to higher intentions to join groups hostile to the university, but only among high identifiers. We found no other differences between the groups. These results suggest that those who identify strongly with their superordinate group (in this case the university) are sensitive to the experience of misrecognition and are more prone to assert some hostility toward the misrecognising group than those who do not identify strongly with their superordinate group, or do not experience misrecognition.

To test the link between misrecognition, trust in authorities as well as members of the majority, and the appeal of radical voices, we surveyed Muslims from Germany, France, and the Netherlands (approximately N = 500 in each case), and Roma people in Hungary (N = 478), Serbia (N = 523) and Romania (N = 324). Our expectation that misrecognition leads to estrangement from the authorities and the majority society which leads to lack of trust in both, was confirmed for the Roma and Muslim samples. Moreover, in the case of Roma people, the survey reliably predicted the relationship with the majority society and identification strategies (i.e., predicting lower national and higher Roma identification as opposed to dual identification). Amongst Muslims and Roma people in all samples we also found that estrangement from the majority and from authorities was linked to finding radical voices more appealing.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of the project. In the first instance some planned empirical studies needed to be cancelled. Secondly, we could not ignore the impact of the pandemic on the minority groups targeted in this project.

The second phase was focused on exploring the experiences of Muslims in western Europe and Roma people in eastern Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our main hypothesis was that the COVID-19 pandemic would intensify the misrecognition experienced by minority members. In each country we conducted at least fifteen lay interviews among Roma/Muslim populations, and three expert interviews.


Regarding the Muslim populations, the interviews highlighted how media debate about public compliance with COVID-19 regulations meant that Muslims’ behaviour received heightened attention. On the one hand, this provided opportunities for Muslims to confirm their standing as good citizens (e.g., by adhering to social distancing regulations, contributing to community projects, etc). On the other hand, there were concerns about majority group members’ lack of recognition of the Muslim community’s sacrifices (e.g., celebrating Eid at home rather than in the mosque). Specifically in the French context, Muslim women mentioned the intersectional strains of the COVID-19 measures. For example, social distancing reduced the accommodation capacity in mosques, opening preferential access for men. Beyond shortness of breath and fogged glasses, the additional challenge of combining the mask and the headscarf was reported. Not only did they have to loosen their headscarf to gain access to their ears to put on or take off the mask, but this combination may be compared with the niqab (since one can only see their eyes) and then be negatively perceived by other French people. Some women reported fear during police controls, experiencing hostility and aggression directed towards them.


Across the different national Muslim population contexts, we identified ambivalence toward authorities and sanitary measures. While some participants mentioned trust in authorities and the feeling that everybody is in the same boat, others felt that the measures disregarded the needs of Muslim people. Another important finding was the role of religion as a coping strategy during the pandemic, and (mis)trust toward the media and government. Furthermore, across the Western countries, governments were criticized for not working hard enough to reach minority groups to disseminate trusted information about COVID-19.


As for the interviews conducted among Roma people, data showed how Roma people managed their social identity when faced with the challenges imposed by the pandemic. In Romania, for example, this was a critical life event that affected perceptions, social definition of certain situations and even social identities. Moreover, during the first wave of the pandemic (February–April 2020), some media reports and social media posts portrayed Roma people as responsible for the spread of the virus, i.e., they were scapegoated. These manifestations were perceived as an exacerbated outburst of negative stereotypes and discrimination that existed before the pandemic, but had been more suppressed due to social expectations and norms. Even if the pandemic did not affect all Roma equally, they were affected more than the rest of the population because contributing factors (such as poverty; illicit employment; poor housing; poor health; difficulties accessing public education, services and utilities) are more prevalent. Finally, we found that Roma people experienced the pandemic in two distinct ways in Romania: on the one hand, “well integrated” Roma people employed in the formal labour market experienced the pandemic similarly to the majority population, without major disruption; on the other hand the “traditional” Roma, who live in remote, isolated, often marginalized communities (where Roma form the majority) faced extreme difficulties during the pandemic and a major disruption to their lives.


In Hungary and Serbia, we identified ambivalence toward authorities and COVID-19 measures among Roma participants. The crisis increased trust in authorities and the feeling that “we are all in the same boat”, while many Roma people felt that the measures disregarded the needs of Roma people. Some participants mentioned the importance of cultural traditions in how they experienced COVID-19 and the restrictions, specifically highlighting the effect on family relationships. Comparable to the Romanian case, better integrated Roma reported difficulties similar to the majority of the population: balancing work and life in the lockdown and work-from-home context, lack of leisure activities etc., but also reported some improvements in family relations. On the other hand, the Roma from informal settlements were severely hit by the pandemic. Most of them could not adhere to hygiene and other prevention measures due to their poor living conditions, many did not have running water or electricity in their homes or even in the whole settlement. They were most severely hit by the curfew that prevented them from collecting secondary raw materials – from which they make their living. When the curfew lasted for days, they were left without food or any possible source of income. Therefore, their needs were heavily disregarded and although they received aid from international and local NGOs, this was not enough to help them through this period.

This study was conducted in all countries participating in the project. The main goal was to conduct a systematic diary study that could provide rich qualitative data on the day-to-day experiences of Muslim and Roma people during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this, each country recruited twenty participants who each wrote an online diary for at least ten days. Since the peaks of the pandemic were different in each country, the data collection took place between July 2020 and February 2021.


In the diary study carried out with Muslim participants, participants reported their everyday emotions and feelings during the various lockdowns, such as boredom, fear, hopelessness, and frustration. Some participants also told us about more severe consequences like isolation, inner conflicts, and depressive symptoms. Participants employed various strategies to deal with these pandemic-related effects – talking digitally with their relatives, getting a pet, or thinking about the benefits of the lockdown.


Many participants also reported lack of motivation, as well as social and creative balance. On a health level, these psychosocial aspects were accompanied by lack of exercise, problems with sleep patterns and nightmares. Headaches, anxiety, and mental exhaustion were also reported. At the same time, many showed empathy for people who were going through a more difficult time due to the pandemic. Some participants were also clearly suffering from the consequences of the lockdown, but did not admit their suffering because they thought they were in a privileged situation.


Minority-“specific” experiences involved religiosity, regulations, discrimination, media dynamics and misrecognition. In terms of religiosity, some perceived the lockdown as beneficial because working from home allowed them to pray freely in the comfort of their home, rather than struggle to find a convenient place at work or university. At the same time, distance from the mosque and specifically from Friday prayers was experienced as painful. A focus on practice (i.e., reading, praying, and fasting) was a very significant coping strategy for some. Furthermore, the challenges posed by the pandemic were considered as tests of faith and dedication to God.


About the COVID-19 regulations, it was reported that there were sometimes clear language barriers to following and understanding the new regulations. It was also reported that the virus was instrumentalized for the expression of xenophobic motivated hate.


The diary study carried out with Roma confirmed that Roma endured and perceived the effects of the pandemic similarly to the majority population, but pre-existing social and economic vulnerabilities (e.g., poverty, illicit employment, poor housing, poor health, lack of digital skills, etc.) made some issues were more prevalent among Roma communities. The latter felt the impact of the pandemic more acutely because it exacerbated these pre-existing social vulnerabilities (see above). Like the Muslims, the Roma reported difficulties in coping with lockdown regulations, balancing work from home and private life (e.g., working from home raised performance expectations, while they also had to handle home-schooling children and managing the household). Participants often reported sadness and disappointment at being unable to attend funerals of family and close friends or celebrate the birth of children in the broader family, due to the pandemic. This inability to attend family event further burdened our participants since, in their culture, these events involve large gatherings and customs that they were not able to adhere to due to the pandemic.


Additionally, participants reported that they were more explicitly expected and more frequently warned to comply with the COVID-19 measures than non-Roma. These dedicated warnings from both authorities and fellow citizens generated feelings of unfairness and also heightened the general experience of discrimination. Furthermore, some participants reported misrecognition of their needs, stemming from the incompatibility between their cultural family habits and COVID-19-measures during the lockdown.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted a survey that tested the link between recognition by the majority society and self-reported compliance with anti-COVID-19 measures imposed by the authorities. This survey was conducted amongst N = 300 Muslims in Germany, France, Netherland, and Scotland, and amongst Roma participants in Serbia (N = 202) and Romania (N = 232).

No direct link was found between recognition and compliance. However, this link was mediated through trust in authorities such that recognition led to more trust in authorities and in turn more compliance.