Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Gypsies and Travellers in housing

Gypsies and Travellers in housing: The decline of Nomadism

David M. Smith
Margaret Greenfields
Copyright Date: 2013
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Gypsies and Travellers in housing
    Book Description:

    This original and timely text is the first published research from the UK to address the neglected topic of the increasing (and largely enforced) settlement of Gypsies and Travellers in conventional housing. It highlights the complex and emergent tensions and dynamics inherent when policy and popular discourse combine to frame ethnic populations within a narrative of movement. The authors have extensive knowledge of the communities and experience as policy practitioners and researchers and consider the changing culture and dynamics experienced by ethnic Gypsies and Travellers. They explore the gendered social, health and economic impacts of settlement and demonstrate the tenacity of cultural formations and their adaptability in the face of policy-driven constraints that are antithetical to traditional lifestyles. The groundbreaking book is essential reading for policy makers; professionals and practitioners working with housed Gypsies and Travellers. It will also be of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, social policy and housing specialists and anybody interested in the experiences and responses of marginalized communities in urban and rural settings. Royalties for this book are to be divided equally between the Gypsy Council and Travellers Aid Trust.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-874-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xx)
    Judith Okely

    This in-depth study of the historic and mainly contemporary circumstances for traditionally nomadic Gypsies and Travellers is timely and deeply shocking. The authors, both social scientists with long-term relevant lived and research experience, combine a broad policy overview with the minutiae of everyday lives from the Gypsy/Traveller perspectives. We are introduced to the cumulative consequences of explicitly negative legislation, alongside deceptively banal micro controls. All of these have the effect of restricting, indeed criminalising, the preferred lifestyles of a people who have survived as nomads hitherto for centuries. Here the late 20th-century history of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain contrasts...

  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Conventional and frequently romanticised portrayals of Gypsy and Travellers’ lives are often preoccupied by ‘paradigm[s] of romanticism and a biological/hereditary nexus’ focusing on these aspects of identity until members of those communities are beyond recognition as members of wider civic society (Belton, 2005, p 46). This text seeks to examine the decline of nomadic lifestyles among Britain’s Gypsy and Traveller population and ‘rehumanise’ the debate through exploring the impact of a (largely enforced) sedentary existence on these communities and the collective adaptations that have evolved in response to significant changes to their traditional way of life.

    This book explores how...

  7. TWO Space, surveillance and modernity
    (pp. 13-44)

    In this and the following chapter, the empirical sections of the book will be situated in their broader theoretical, historical and contemporary contexts and an attempt will be made to tease out the interconnections between these dimensions. For example, historical and comparative studies show that racism and persecution have been constant features of the relationship between Gypsies, Travellers and the wider society, albeit the degree and virulence has varied at different periods according to wider social, political and economic conditions (Kenrick and Puxon, 1972; Fraser, 1995). However, the prejudice and marginalisation experienced by nomadic communities today, while displaying much historical...

  8. THREE Gypsies, nomads and urbanisation: a social history
    (pp. 45-74)

    Since the mid 19th century questions surrounding the urbanisation of Gypsies, the consequences of increasing contact with ‘gaje’/‘gorjer’ (non-Gypsy) society and the qualitatively different nature of such interactions in urban contexts, have been central to scholarly debates concerning the origins and destiny of this group. According to Mayall (2004), the most basic distinction in this debate is between two paradigms. The first provides racial, linguistic and ancestral explanations highlighting the Indian origins of the various diasporic Romani groups that are today scattered around the world (Hancock, 2002; Kenrick, 2004). This model was initially promoted in the journal of the Gypsy...

  9. FOUR The research sites and population sample
    (pp. 75-88)

    In this chapter we set out the sites of the various research studies and introduce existing data which we have drawn upon to support our findings, for example Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs). In addition we discuss how we developed the follow-up qualitative studies into the experiences of housed Gypsies and Travellers which form the core of this text.

    As noted previously, GTAAs arose in response to New Labour’s in-depth policy review of Gypsy and Traveller circumstances which commenced in 2003 (Greenfields, 2007a). The findings from the review and consideration of representations from activists, academics and Gypsy and Traveller community...

  10. FIVE Routes into housing
    (pp. 89-108)

    In all of the research locales outlined in the previous chapter, significant Gypsy and Traveller populations are resident in conventional housing as a consequence of the broader legislative, social and historical forces previously discussed as well as resulting from individual preferences and circumstances. In recent decades, the housing ‘careers’ and residential characteristics of minority groups have received extensive attention (Sarre et al, 1989; Somerville and Steele, 2002; Robinson and Reeve, 2006), with research consistently showing that despite significant differences between BME groups they tend as a category to be disadvantaged in relation to housing; 26 per cent of BME households...

  11. SIX Housing transitions
    (pp. 109-132)

    The previous chapter highlighted the main routes through which the Gypsies and Travellers interviewed in the different locations included in this study arrived in housing. While a degree of autonomy could often be exercised in relation to neighbourhood (see Chapter Eight), for many the move into housing was experienced as a severe limit on individual agency and an attendant diminution of accustomed lifestyle. As noted in Chapter One, fundamental and rapid changes in one’s social landscape can impact traumatically at a group level, and ‘supply the prevailing mood and temper, dominate its imagery and its sense of self, [and] govern...

  12. SEVEN Gypsies, Travellers and gorjers: conflict and cooperation
    (pp. 133-154)

    We have identified how settlement into conventional housing can entail significant psycho-social and practical challenges for former caravan dwellers. In our subsequent exploration of the various difficulties in adjusting to housing experienced by respondents we will focus on how living in proximity to close kin and being able to access networks of social relationships act as a protective factor in preserving wellbeing (Dawkins, 2006; Fletcher, 2009). The community-based nature of Gypsy/ Traveller culture centred around principles of ‘bounded solidarity’ – in-group oriented and with a strong sense of collective solidarity engendered by external threats to the group – has been...

  13. EIGHT Recreating community
    (pp. 155-174)

    As explored in the previous chapter, social relations between housed Gypsies and Travellers and their sedentary neighbours are not infrequently characterised by tensions, and the use of (mutual) negative stereotyping which can sporadically flare into open conflict. As a response both to the potentially hostile environment in which some housed Gypsies and Travellers find themselves and as a mechanism for preserving and asserting their own cultural identity, specific strategies are utilised. Holloway (2005) examines how white rural residents in the vicinity of Appleby horse fair construct and racialise Gypsies and Travellers, which subsequently shapes how they relate towards them. She...

  14. NINE Young people in housing: aspirations, social relations and identity
    (pp. 175-196)

    This chapter draws predominantly on two focus groups conducted in the South East and South West research sites in addition to data gleaned from secondary analysis of GTAA focus groups and household interviews conducted in the primary research locales.¹ It explores the experiences of young housed Gypsies and Travellers (aged 25 or less) and the evolving nature of spatially bounded social relationships among these youthful cohorts, for many of whom life in conventional housing has been their predominant experience. The chapter focuses on the dynamics of intercommunity and interpersonal relations and discusses how an increasing social and cultural convergence with...

  15. TEN Conclusion
    (pp. 197-210)

    As outlined at the beginning of this book, the key objectives of this study were to highlight the main causes behind the settlement of Britain’s travelling communities and to explore the individual and collective manifestations of this trend. We have discussed the ways in which longer-term processes of settlement and sedenterisation have occurred in tandem with wider processes of urbanisation and industrialisation. In this study we have made manifest the stark impact of the implementation of successive post-war government policies, transforming an entire culture through making nomadic lifestyles progressively untenable.

    The enforced immobilisation of the majority of Britain’s Gypsies and...

  16. APPENDIX A: Methodologies
    (pp. 211-212)
  17. APPENDIX B: Glossary of words and terms
    (pp. 213-220)
  18. References
    (pp. 221-246)
  19. Index
    (pp. 247-260)
  20. Back matter
    (pp. 261-261)