Resisting assimilation: survival and adaptation to 'alien' accomodation forms: The case of British Gypsy/Travellers in housing

Smith, David Martin and Greenfields, Margaret (2015) Resisting assimilation: survival and adaptation to 'alien' accomodation forms: The case of British Gypsy/Travellers in housing. Today’s children – Tomorrow’s parents, 40-41. pp. 68-80. ISSN 1582-1889

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Abstract

This paper consists of discussion of findings from a series of empirical studies conducted in London and southern England. A central concern of these studies was to explore the collective responses and adaptations of Gypsies and Travellers to post-war (1945) government legislation which has aimed to eradicate nomadic lifestyles and in so doing, to settle and assimilate this group into the general population. Despite these policy objectives Gypsies and Travellers through utilising forms of cultural resilience have resisted enormous pressures to assimilate, managing to live within a wider culture while rejecting its values and social institutions and recreating traditional collective lifestyles (as far as possible) within 'bricks and mortar' accommodation. The authors outline contemporary forms of resistance to assimilation and, by drawing on qualitative and ethnographic data, demonstrate how relations between the state and Gypsies and Travellers is characterised by a cyclical relationship of domination, resistance and resilience. As legislation is enacted to restrict the mobility of Gypsies and Travellers and 'settle' them, so these groups develop innovative startegies to evade or minimise the impact of legislation, thus instigating a new phase of policy development. Cultural resilience in this context therefore encompasses active resistance to externally imposed changes that are perceived as antithetical to traditional lifestyles. Drawing on Acton's (1974) typology of adaptive strategies the authors illustrate how recourse to culturally grounded strategies of resistance has allowed Gypsies and Travellers to maintain a sense of social cohesion and group identity, which assists in minimising the more damaging impacts of legislation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Gypsies, Travellers, Housing, Resilience, Communities, Assimilation, Adaptation
Divisions: ?? BucksNewUniversity ??
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 15:33
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2017 19:28
URI: http://bucks.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/15730

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