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Accommodating nomadism and mobility: Challenging the sedentarist binary approach to provision for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma

Zoë James (School of Law, Criminology and Government, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Rebekah Southern (Southern Horizons (UK) Ltd, Saltash, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 2 April 2019

Issue publication date: 2 April 2019

470

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how and why Gypsies and Travellers are socially excluded in England and how their experience may be reflected in other European contexts. Specifically, the paper explores the impact of planning policies on accommodation provision for Gypsies and Travellers in England and subsequently how their exclusion manifests due to the sedentarist binary definition of nomadism embedded within that policy.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on evidence from empirical research carried out by the authors in the South West of England in 2015 as part of an accommodation needs assessment of Gypsies and Travellers. The research was commissioned by a local authority but the analysis presented here was carried out in addition to the core report. The decision to comment further on the research findings in relation to policy and theory was agreed with the project funders.

Findings

The research findings show that there continues to be a lack of accommodation provided to Gypsies and Travellers in England, despite policy and legislative initiatives to the contrary. The paper identifies that current government policy in England is likely to diminish access to appropriate accommodation in the future for Gypsies and Travellers, particularly for the most vulnerable. Finally, the paper concludes that a sedentarist binary definition of nomadism has failed to recognise Gypsy and Traveller communities’ culture or mobility.

Originality/value

This paper sets out how an underpinning “sedentarist binary” definition of nomadism is used in England to determine policies of provision for Gypsies and Travellers. That definition is based on the sedentary notions of nomadism that are binary, distinguishing only between people who are mobile and people who are not, rather than acknowledging the cultural nomadism of Gypsies and Travellers. The findings are useful beyond the UK context as they help to explain why Gypsies, Travellers and Roma in wider Europe remain excluded within states despite extensive European initiatives for inclusion.

Keywords

Citation

James, Z. and Southern, R. (2019), "Accommodating nomadism and mobility: Challenging the sedentarist binary approach to provision for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 3/4, pp. 324-336. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-10-2018-0177

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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