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Abstract

Previous studies of ‘New Age’ travellers have paid no attention to generational differences within the travellers’ scene. This paper looks at these differences to reflect upon the new social movement (NSM) literature. It is argued that NSM theory only analyses those movements with ‘post-material’ concerns about culture, identity and symbolic challenges. It thus ignores less privileged movements which are concerned with apparently ‘traditional’ issues, such as survival, political opposition and citizenship rights. A number of such movements have emerged during the past few years in the wake of economic and social restructuring under post-Fordist conditions and the dismantling of a Keynesian-style welfare state that is associated with these processes. While the older generation of travellers was tied to the NSM movements and chose to move onto the road, the younger travellers have been forced to do so for lack of any reasonable alternative, having faced unemployment and homelessness in a post-Fordist/Keynesian era. They are, therefore, part of the contemporary movement scene to which ‘old’ issues are seemingly still applicable. The article concludes by showing how both the older and the younger travellers are now struggling to survive in the face of legislation which effectively criminalises their way of life.