Economic functions of nomadism in Ireland

398 Words2 Pages
Outline the social and economic functions of nomadism in relation to the Irish Traveller experience? Self employment plays a massive role in the life of an Irish nomad. Times have changed within Ireland and the employment of an Irish traveller has become limited. Due to the economic change of Ireland itself travellers are no longer needed to complete jobs just as tin smithing but rather have turned to occupations and travelling sales people as well as collecting for recycling old clothing etc. Due to lack of work and no fixed abode to claim social welfare in Ireland, Irish travellers have financial strain as the cost of keeping travelling expenses can be high. Kinship plays a massive role in the world of a traveller and “It serves ‘the function of allowing families, which normally travel together, to meet a wider range of kin so that news is shared and young people can come into contact with a wide range of potential marriage partners” (McDonagh 1994, p97). This has become strained in today’s Irish society as due to reputation that all Irish travellers have been painted with they often feel force to abandon their place of rest to avoid social tension between the settled of that particular area. It is perhaps their nomadism, a strong cultural/family identity and their general marginalisation from mainstream society that has influenced the nature and structure of Traveller work patterns. They lived on their wits and like other Traveller and Gypsy groups they adapted to new employment niches in the 'mainstream' economy as and when they presented themselves. The common feature to all the types of different occupations was that they typically revolved around nomadism and self-employment. They were a vital niche in the economy of the pre-industrialised Ireland of the 1950s as they bartered, sold and recycled items that the settled population found difficult
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