Festivals, circuses and traveller fairs have a long history, and yet the social worlds and working practices of these mobile communities have received remarkably little attention in the social sciences. Drawing upon my contacts and experience working as a professional festival tent rigger for ten years, along with my training in human geography, I will undertake an in-depth study of the social and economic practices, work cultures, and spaces of these mobile communities, focussing on both stage riggers and tent riggers. This relatively marginalised and transitory group of workers face significant social and economic challenges, and alongside the key academic aims of the project, I hope to draw conclusions that will be of benefit to employees in the sector. To address these aims, I will draw upon original in-depth qualitative research to examine the following research questions:
• How and why do festival riggers enter their profession? What are their skills and how have they acquired them?
• How are their identities entangled with particular craft and working practices, social communities and national communities? How do they establish social networks?
• How is it regulated as a sector? Are there gendered pay disparities?
• How are festival riggers mobile and immobile at various points? How do they perceive and value these qualities? What challenges do they present? How are they included and excluded from mainstream society?
• What affinities and relations do these mobile workers have with other mobile subjects such as new age travellers, gypsies, and circus communities?
• What are the transnational movements of these workers?
• How has legislation presented barriers to their life and livelihood, and how have specific events become enshrined in festival ‘folklore’?