The nomadic scapegoat : the criminalisation and victimisation of gypsies
An ethnographic analysis of the nature, extent and processes of anti-Gypsy discrimination in contemporary Britain is used to test a number of hypotheses: that nomads are at odds with practices of social control and with capitalist spatiality; that there exists a sedentarist bias within the Criminal Justice System; that the criminalisation of minority groups is socially and politically functional. Qualitative research techniques are used to address escalating anti-Gypsy attacks from local, institutional and legislative sources. It is proposed that, in accordance with this escalation, a vicious circle has been established with each form of attack encouraging and legitimising the other. The argument is that the victimisation of Gypsies will remain "legitimate" for as long as Gypsies remain synonymous with crime. Current legislation endorses the stereotype of the criminal Gypsy by outlawing a nomadic way of life. This has genocidal implications for Gypsies and also threatens others within a State that is looking for reasons to restrict freedoms and rights. The so-called "Gypsy problem" is therefore deconstructed with the research focus placed upon problematising the law and the agencies of social control. This should avoid the paradox of attempting to decriminalise Gypsies by associating them more fully within the discourse of crime, and will broaden the research relevance. The analysis begins with a discussion of the poor condition of public sites and the decreasing likelihood of gaining planning permission for private sites. The concluding chapter disputes the pluralistic and democratic character of Britain and questions the reality of "freedom of movement" within the EU.