Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Transhumance as an adaptive strategy of West Coast RV retirees Public Deposited

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  • This ethnography describes RV [recreational vehicle] seasonal migration as an adaptive, transhumant strategy. The study population is retired, transhumant migrants, who are members of a nation-wide, membership camping organization. Fieldwork was conducted over a period of seven months at two sites located on the West Coast. These sites reflect northern and southern locations corresponding to seasonal migration patterns. Standard scholarly orientations to the study of retired RV seasonal migrants manifest ethnocentrism and a tendency to stereotype RVers as amenity-migrants. An original and primary objective of the present study was to reach beyond these conceptualizations and popularized images through first-hand, descriptive accounts collected within the context of the culture. This research expands on two existing studies focusing on social and cultural aspects of RV seasonal migration. In contrast to these accounts, the present study provides cultural description of the daily life of retired RVers focusing on the distinctive ways that members of this subculture express mainstream American cultural values underlying their adaptive strategies. This study proposes an alternative conceptualization of RV seasonal migration, derived from the culture itself. The conclusion is that these adaptive strategies reflect patterns of social organization, patterns of resource management, and patterns of social, familial, and interpersonal relationships, that are congruent with mainstream American cultural values of self-reliant individualism, equality, and material comfort; values that have historical, philosophical roots in the Protestant Work Ethic. The RVers' identity derives from maintaining membership in a temporary, fluid, mobile community. They have cohesive social networks with well-defined boundaries, which they defend against threats to group identity. This study contributes to an understanding of what RV seasonal migration means to the participants themselves, and by extension, to their families, to communities, and to our aging society.
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