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'Site under construction': the role of discourse in the social construction of Local Authority Traveller accommodation

Whiting, Ruth Helen 2013. 'Site under construction': the role of discourse in the social construction of Local Authority Traveller accommodation. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Key traditional foci in Traveller-related academic work have tended to be ’socio-economics’ and ‘culture’/‘ethnicity’. Diverting from these, this thesis takes a sociological Housing Studies starting-point in considering ‘Travelling people’ in the context of ‘housing’ as ‘home’, and ‘residence’ as an aspect of the human ‘way of life’. From the epistemological perspective of ‘weak’ social constructionism (Berger and Luckmann, 1966), and accepting a ‘universalistic’ understanding of ‘ethnicity’ (Malešević, 2004), I problematize the concept ‘way of life’ in its popular sense of socio-cultural ‘lifestyle’, identifying, and suggesting the term ‘lifeway’ to denote, a dichotomous (nomadic-sedentary) socio-ecological subsense within its English-language construction. Similarly problematised, the construct ‘Traveller’ and its commonly-accepted counterpart ‘settled’ appear as a pair of diversely multi-ethnic human lifeway collectives, differentiated not primarily by degree of mobility, but by contrasting ‘nomadic’ and ‘sedentary’ versions of ‘residence’, ‘dwelling’, ‘home’, etc. Using a reflexive, broadly ‘Foucauldian’ (Carabine, 2001), discourse analysis methodology (Potter, 1996; Wetherell et al. 2001), I consider Traveller/nomadic ’residence’ empirically through a case study (Yin, 2003) of the ‘Local Authority Traveller Site’ as a discursive ‘text’ central to dominant representations of Traveller/nomadic ‘dwelling’/ ‘home’. From Sedentarist and Nomadist socio-discursive accounts of social construction and contestation, I develop bi- and tri-modal understandings of seemingly incomprehensible and/or irreducible intra- and inter-paradigmatic tensions. In this initial attempt at a nomadism-sensitive critique, I argue that academic consideration of Traveller and other socio-ecologically non-hegemonic lifeways, within Housing and beyond, has been limited by a universally ‘Sedentarist’ discursive ‘bottom line’. I propose amelioration of this through reformulation of the concept of lifeway, a discrete, essential dimension of human identity cross-cutting (rather than reducible to) ethnicity, class or gender, from a dichotomy to a continuum of socio-ecological practice; and related expansion of Kemeny’s (1992) concept of ‘residence’. The now considerable theoretical and critical capability of Housing Studies and related fields, combined with the ‘lifeway’ perspectives offered by Romani Studies and related fields, could produce potentially very fruitful and far-reaching ‘integrative’ (Kemeny, 1992; also Acton, 1997) ‘trans-disciplinary’ (Clapham et al., 2012) and ‘theory-making’ (King, 2009) collaboration. This could enable more visible, comprehensible mainstream academic representation of Traveller and other non-hegemonic residence modes, and enhanced mobilities (Urry, 2007) accounts of hegemonic residence, housing, dwelling and home.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Uncontrolled Keywords: housing; home; dwelling; residence; Travellers; Gypsies; Traveller accommodation; Local Authority Traveller Site; identity; lifeway; ethnicity; culture; nomadism; sedentarism; migratorism; mobility; mobilities; social constructionism; discourse analysis
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:05

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