Irish Travelers - Sociopolitical Organization

Social and Political Organization. Irish Travelers in the United States are not politically active on their own behalf. Although they have been victims of discrimination and prejudice since their early itinerant days, Irish Travelers react to outsiders by withdrawing into the group and reinforcing the boundary rules. For example, Irish Travelers now enroll their children in school for a longer period of time than earlier generations did, but because of their increased contact with non-Travelers, Travelers are marrying each other at younger ages.

Social Control. Irish Travelers have very strict boundary rules against outsiders. Close social contacts with non-Travelers are prohibited unless the non-Traveler is a religious person such as a priest or nun. If a Traveler is even suspected of befriending a non-Traveler for any reason other than business, the Traveler and the family may be ostracized by the entire village for a short or even permanent period. The chance of being ostracized has proven to be a very successful method of social control. The prejudice and discrimination Travelers feel from non-Travelers only reinforce the need for acceptance by fellow Travelers.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: