Unlocking hidden community assets: Marginal specialization and community resilience of Gypsy-Travelers in the Netherlands

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Enduring social exclusion has forced Gypsy-Travelers to specialize in marginal economic activities. These marginal specializations build on specific skills, attitudes, and strategies which are valuable for the communities’ overall development. Today’s Gypsy-Traveler communities face a context of rapid economic restructuring, due in part to advancements in technology and digitalization. This paper combines the literatures on the exclusion of Gypsy-Travelers and marginal entrepreneurship to demonstrate the need for recognition of community-specific assets, even those linked to illicit or illegal activities. Based on the Dutch context, a framework is proposed for conceptualizing the possible impact of four community assets on Gypsy-Traveler community resilience. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential for a community-based approach in the work of, for example, liaison officers and policymakers, which would unlock community assets and strengthen the communities’ economic position. The key challenge for practitioners is to counter the dominant, negative discourses on Gypsy-Travelers, while at the same time tempering the possible diverging effects of building on community-specific assets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-649
Number of pages13
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Community Assets
  • Community Resilience
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Gypsy-Travelers
  • Marginality

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