The ‘Spirit’ of Schooling

The relevance of the sense of a calling on the school experiences of secondary-school Roma/Ciganos students


  • Pedro Caetano Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • Maria Manuela Mendes ISCSP, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal; Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia do Iscte-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (CIES-Iscte), Lisboa, Portugal

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Roma/Ciganos, Max Weber, value-rationality, calling, Spirit, schooling


In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (PE), Max Weber examines the ecological domination of instrumental rationality to the detriment of value-oriented action. The concept of the calling (Beruf in German) becomes a key one for interpreting the process of value rationalization. One can find Weberian value-rationality among the Portuguese Roma/Ciganos, who seek alternative livelihood strategies via schooling, although they are still characterized by a high rate of early school dropouts, with a very low number of students attending secondary education. The EDUCIG (School performance among Ciganos/Roma: action research and co-design) project was launched in 2019 to grasp the multiple factors involved in this social problem. The project interview-based analysis entailed the participation of 31 Roma/Ciganos students from the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto. Results suggest that despite the social, cultural and economic constraints affecting their school pathways, the academic success of young Roma/Ciganos is facilitated by the influence of religion, specifically the Pentecostal Evangelical Church and its respective values. Moreover, we can recognize the emergence of a new ‘spirit’ in these young Roma/Ciganos, a ‘spirit’ that does not aim at instant gratification but represents an investment in the future and, simultaneously, a desire for integration.




How to Cite

Caetano, P. and Mendes, M.M. 2024. The ‘Spirit’ of Schooling: The relevance of the sense of a calling on the school experiences of secondary-school Roma/Ciganos students. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 9, 3 (Jan. 2024), 148–166. DOI:



Beyond Weber