A Study Into The Relation Between Nomadic Culture and Society

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


I cerify that the contents of this dissertation which are not my own work has been referenced.

Harry Hilliar

Monday, 22 February 2010



This research project looks at the current state of nomadic life style taking comparisons from global nomadic cultures and those currently living within the South West of England. By analysing the predominant values of transient communities and the reasons for which such life style choices are made. The various findings ranging from commercial to more ideological reasons are then explored through an ethnographic interpretation of my own life style and opinions with regard to the theoretical concepts identified within the research. The research was particularly useful in exploring the representation of travelling communities and revealed that the ideology behind a transient existence was not as detached as previously thought. The tendency towards negative representation within the media is subjective and lacks distinction. This research found that in reality there is diversity within the travelling community and this lack of understanding, due mainly to the reclusive nature of the communities, has resulted in stereotypical assumptions which in many cases lack sufficient evidence to the contrary. The established ‘us and them’ mentality has drawn invalidated conclusions that suggest travellers hold more radical and different opinions within their belief systems, whereas this research would suggest that the ideology expressed by various forms of nomadic people is not too dissimilar to that of the wider accepted society. It is however due to circumstance and cultural conditioning that these people maintain their way of life through secretive means which is a direct result of such misrepresentations. The research concludes that, other than the relation with space and land, the ideology and dominant beliefs of nomadic communities is almost identical to our own.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010



I would like to thank my parents for their continuous encouragement and support. My study skills tutor, Kathy Flower and communication support worker, Joe Green. Without their support this dissertation would not have been possible. Sally Hall for her inspiration and patience. All of the various groups and individuals interviewed for there co-operation and generosity.



'Is it possible to find a dwelling, a place within the world, while moving across it?
We are fixated with property claims and the possibility of embedding ourselves and of finding our identity in our surroundings. But if identity itself is fluid, the identity of place as much as that of ourselves, is it not natural to be in a constant state of movement rather than standing still? In a world of global exchange, perhaps we are all of us moving'.
Dean/ Millar 2005:149)

Society draws a circle. Those inside conform, and those at the edge either change or step outside to join those who don’t fit in. From the inside it can be difficult to see those on the outside, often hidden away. Invisible, yet co-existing in the same space.

In this research project I shall attempt to uncover this distinction. To identify those who choose to live outside the constraints of society, to uncover the spaces they identify as their own, and to break down the cultural myths associated with gypsies, travellers and nomadic/alternative lifestyles. Is the dominant ideology of our society shared by such people and to what extent do they consider themselves outside of the circle? The history of various groups hitherto known to wander from space to space. The folklore and traditions of days gone by, long forgotten to many but continued by some.

Travellers have maintained a growing presence among us for years, much is assumed yet little is known about how they live and why they have adopted this lifestyle.


Human migration is movement (physical or psychological) by humans from one district to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. (www.wikipedia.com)

Why do people migrate - there are a number of different reasons why people migrate from one place to another. The need to escape from persecution through war and ethnic cleansing, extreme poverty and hunger, slavery and displacement or financial gain.

Migrant Mother 1936, Dorothea Lange

"Nipomo, Calif. March 1936.
Migrant agricultural worker's family.
Seven hungry children and their
mother,aged 32. The father is a native Californian."

Click on link below to read the article by Dorothea Lange about her encounter with the migrant mother.


Net migration rates for 2008: positive (blue), negative (orange), stable (green), and no data (gray)

BBC News Article -


Over the past 15 years, the number of people crossing borders in search of a better life has been rising steadily. At the start of the 21st Century, one in every 35 people is an international migrant. If they all lived in the same place, it would be the world's fifth-largest country.

Many people migrate as a way of life moving from place to place to seek out work during different seasons. They enjoyu this way of life and in many ways it is not dissimilar to that of nomadic cultures.