Critical reflections on the Celtic Tiger

Sexual images and innuendo have become commonplace in contemporary advertising; they often fail to register in any meaningful way with the audience. This book examines the essentially racist stereotypes through which Irish people have conventionally been regarded have been increasingly challenged and even displaced perhaps by a sequence of rather more complimentary perspectives. The various developments that are signified within the figure of the Celtic Tiger might be considered to have radically altered the field of political possibility in Ireland. The enormous cuts in public expenditure that marked this period are held to have established a desirable, stable macroeconomic environment. The Celtic Tiger shows that one can use the rhetoric about 'social solidarity' while actually implementing policies which increase class polarisation. The book discusses the current hegemonic construction of Ireland as an open, cosmopolitan, multicultural, tourist-friendly society. The two central pieces of legislation which currently shape Irish immigration policy are the 1996 Refugee Act and the Immigration Bill of 1999. The book offers a critical examination of the realities of the Celtic Tiger for Irish women. Processes of nation state formation invariably invoke homogeneous narratives of ethnicity and national identity. To invoke a collective subject of contemporary Ireland rhetorically is to make such a strategic utopian political assumption. For the last few hundred years, the Gaeltacht has exemplified the crisis of Irish modernity. Culture becomes capital, and vice versa, while political action increasingly consists of the struggle to maintain democratic autonomy in the face of global market forces.

Journeys through postmodern Dublin

This chapter presents the journey of the author through Postmodern Dublin. The author wanted to strip Dublin of its ethnological content, resituate it as archaeology and embrace the much postponed confrontation with the tangles of postmodernity. Postmodern renderings of Dublin invoke a nostalgia for the 'modern Dublin' reputedly best exemplified in James Joyce's Ulysses and redeploy that nostalgia into the listless contemporary. Contemporary Dublin sees sex released from its necessary association with Catholicism and freed into a general regime of commodification. Irish sin, or sex, is transformed in postmodern Dublin and forms a new defining relationship to money. The author explained that postmodern Dublin was characterised by many examples of such historical transformations and oppositional disruptions in the tranquillity of our modern consciousness. Globalised postmodern Dublin is allowing us to re-represent our identity, where the only inauthentic place is the hysterically immediate present.

in The end of Irish history?

The UK public's confidence in the quality of the modern food supply, and in the governance of that supply, took a buffeting through a series of food safety crises. At both the UK and the EU level of governance there was a perception of policy failure over the safety of the final food product emerging from the supply chain. The determination of some key decisions by the EU and its member states has been explained within a framework of multilevel governance, in the form of two-level or multilevel strategic bargaining and decision-making. The new institutionalist schools of analysis place an emphasis on the influence of institutions, their operating procedures and practices as shaping factors of public policy. The creation of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) occurred at a juncture when perceptions of policy failure were acknowledged at UK and EU governmental levels.

in Qualities of food
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Anne McClintock and H. Rider Haggard

This chapter emphasizes gendering imperialism by referring to the work of Anne McClintock and H. Rider Haggard, focusing on McClintock's celebrated Imperial Leather discussion of Haggard's popular and influential imperialist Victorian romance King Solomon's Mines. It depicts the quest for treasure in southern Africa by three British adventurers, who also restore the ‘rightful’ heir to the throne of an African kingdom. The chapter also focuses on the way McClintock analyses the dynamics of labour and degeneration, and explores the political implications of her approach. McClintock suggests that King Solomon's Mines is an allegory of colonial power; specifically, that the novel allegorizes colonial appropriation of African women's reproductive and productive labour. She presents a version of women's reproductive capability in which women are menacingly powerful, regardless of whether they exercise any material control over the reproductive and productive activities of themselves or others.

in Postcolonial contraventions

This chapter addresses the complex articulation between the cultural and the economic processes in the discursive construction of Ireland in the era of globalisation. It examines the problematic 'placing' of Ireland in the world. The chapter then traces its constant (re)invention from a cultural political economy approach. Observer Fintan O'Toole notes that 'US culture is itself in part an Irish invention' and that 'Irish culture is inconceivable without America'. To refer to 'tradition' or cultural 'authenticity' today makes little sense when we realise how pragmatic an affair the construction of a national identity is. The image of an uneven but combined development may serve as a useful and evocative backdrop for the analysis of the cultural political economy of contemporary Ireland. A 'cultural' element is clearly an integral part of the Celtic Tiger and the 'political economy' element certainly has a strong 'cultural' component.

in The end of Irish history?
Open Access (free)
Purchasing, consumption and innovation

This chapter explores whether the use of ‘consumer’ pressure in improving the environmental performance of companies, a tactic long advocated by environmentalists, stands critical scrutiny. It examines some previously ignored connections between processes of organisational purchasing and innovation in the context of the greening of organisations. It builds an argument around the idea of consumption and it does so to problematise explicitly the issue of collective agency as it relates to organisations. In developing the argument, the chapter asks: who is the consumer and what do consumers do? It uses the interplay between concepts of the individual consumer and concepts of the organisational consumer as a way to explicate some key ideas about the greening of consumption. Using the concept of the ‘supply chain’, it suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the mechanisms, both between and within firms and organisations, through which they engage in buying and selling. Such mechanisms are the organisation sites for the articulation of ‘demand’ and ‘consumption’.

in Innovation by demand
Female labour in a male-dominated service industry

This chapter argues that in service industries such as security, demand for a service is inseparable from the demand for the kind of people seen as suitable for providing the service. One important example is women providing services in sectors that were once dominated by men. The massive movement of women into paid employment can be considered as a significant innovation. The chapter traces such variability of innovation to the complexity of a ‘relational matrix’ within which innovation is embedded. The matrix includes several kinds of key actors such as employers, service providers, potential employees, clients, and targets to whom service work is directed on behalf of clients. Gender distributions either limit or enable innovations. For instance, employers can use female labour in innovative ways only to the extent that they have female service providers on hand or can recruit them from potential employees as well taking into account the appropriateness of gendered roles in the market. An analysis of Canada's security industry is used to explore these issues using various data sources.

in Innovation by demand

This chapter focuses on users and how their needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. After discussing demand, markets, and user needs and surveying the evolution of user orientation, user-friendliness, user-centred design, and human-machine interaction in the information and communication technology industry, the chapter reports an ethnographic study of telecommunications equipment design. It shows that the job of the design team in a high-tech industry where firms collaborate was just as likely to be the design of the organisational arrangements for the development and delivery of new products and services as the design of the products and services themselves. Design as an activity links many of the functions in the business enterprise and its environment; building such links is an essential part of the design and innovation process. The chapter also demonstrates that usability testing took a very particular form in which to pay attention to users needs. Some unexpected findings were made that had to be incorporated into a future product design.

in Innovation by demand

This chapter discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation. It presents two case studies which detail a number of interesting issues regarding ways that consumers become involved in new product development or longer-term research and development in the information and communication technology sector. In some cases, consumers have been actively involved during new product development. Much more common was later involvement, in the form of product testing and evaluation of interfaces. In other cases, consumers are ‘represented’ through perceptions of consumer behaviour built up by designers and product managers. Given that many product ideas stem from awareness of technological possibilities, consumer feedback is more often in the form of reaction to product proposals rather than generating them. Even in more incremental new product development projects, the information that is collected about consumers can become marginalised relative to other considerations. This chapter concludes that there is evidence of firms attempting to learn about consumers as input to their innovation processes, but that such efforts have so far been rather underdeveloped.

in Innovation by demand
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An interdisciplinary approach to the study of demand and its role in innovation

This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.