How can international organizations influence behavior at the level of the individual? This paper tests whether incentive-based and norm promoting strategies have effects that trickle down to individuals and affect their behavior at the ground level. The study uses a hard case, that of discrimination against the Roma (commonly known by the disfavored term "Gypsies"), and spans three towns, Murska Sobota and Novo mesto in Slovenia and Cakovec in Croatia. Levels of discrimination were estimated via trust games played with money, which are particularly appropriate because the Roma are widely stereotyped as cheaters and thieves. The findings suggest that the EU accession process, widely regarded as an exceptionally strong incentive-based mechanism of rights diffusion, does not severely reduce discrimination on the ground. Instead, they suggest that ground level organizing aimed at improving relations between Roma and non-Roma helps reduce discrimination.
Ana Bracic is a postdoctoral fellow at CDDRL. She received her PhD from NYU in May 2013, and was a Junior Visiting Fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School in 2012-13. Her research aims to identify and understand mechanisms that tangibly improve the lives of people whose rights are violated, whether through measures are best applied at the state level or on the ground. Her dissertation consists of three related projects: a micro-level fieldwork study of discrimination against the Roma in Slovenia and Croatia, a macro-level study of cross-country diffusion of human rights practices, and a macro-level comparison of physical integrity rights violations in failed and stable autocracies. Her work has been funded in part by the American Political Science Association.