Social and cultural shifts on the island of Ireland are held to have diluted the authority of nationalisms that were tied to unidimensional and archaic notions of Irishness and Britishness. The Europeanisation of political and financial power, the influx of foreign capital, political morphology in Northern Ireland and the growth in consumption have all been identified as sociopolitical forces that have advanced more heterogeneous senses of identity and belonging. This chapter aims to establish how the ideological divisions between Irishness and Britishness continue to be reproduced, despite the supposed evaporation of the discursive constructions. In pinpointing the divisions that remain and those that may reappear, the chapter argues that the capacity exists for sectarian consciousness to spread throughout the Irish body politic. In a broader sense, the Belfast Agreement (BA) is part of a programme of promoting a postnationalist interpretation of places of identity on the island of Ireland.
A reminder from the present
This chapter analyses the principles of sustainability and attention of ecowelfare by studying the new genetics. It argues for a multidimensional conception of human nature where the maintenance of diversity through social solutions (rather than technological fixes) should be the priority. It discusses the positions of Charles Murray and Francis Fukayama on eugenics. This concludes that we should only be allowed to improve human well-being through biotechnology if we are also prepared to improve it through the implementation of policies based upon distributive justice and attention.
Relational reflexivity in the ‘alternative’ food movement
Jonathan Murdoch and Mara Miele
This chapter examines some contemporary understandings of quality prevalent within alternative food markets and networks. In order to study the aesthetic dimension more closely, the chapter begins by considering the relationship between economic and aesthetic discourses in the food sector. The chapter argues that concerns around food safety are provoked by the emergence of a new food aesthetic based on 'relationalism' and 'embeddedness'. It also argues that the concern for embeddedness brings 'relational reflexivity' to the fore among consumers. The chapter examines the role of new social movements in heightening awareness of the economic, social and environmental relationships that surround food-stuffs. The Soil Association (SA) campaigns to increase the amount of organic food produced and consumed within the UK and acts to certify organic standards on farms and in food-processing enterprises.
Class polarisation and neo-liberalism in the Irish Republic
Celtic Tiger shows that one can use the rhetoric about 'social solidarity' while actually implementing policies which increase class polarisation. The growing difficulties with the US model cast a new light on the 'Boston or Berlin?' debate which emerged in the last phase of the Celtic Tiger. The dominance of neo-liberalism in Irish economics means that the US boom of the 1990s is accepted simply as given and as implicitly proving the benefits of deregulated markets. Information and communications technologies account for 40 per cent of total exports from the Irish Republic, having grown at an annual average rate of twenty-three per cent between 1993 and 2000. The period of social partnership has coincided with a wider change whereby the ratio of social security spending to gross domestic product (GDP) fell markedly in Ireland.
This chapter proposes a model of ecowelfare. It explains that ecowelfare adheres to the principles of attention, principle of sustainability and the alternative version of distributive justice. It outlines various theories needed to make sense of those principles but without closing down any room for manoeuvre on the part of those who may disagree with various aspects of the relevant arguments. This chapter suggests that social theory of ecowelfare consists of an analysis of the links between these three principles of distributive justice, attention and sustainability.
The tragedy (and comedy) of accelerated modernisation
Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling
This chapter shows that the experience of modernity and modernisation in contemporary Ireland is illustrative of the end of history as interpreted by the Hegelian/Marxist dialectic, and its decomposition into eternal recurrence and stasis as interpreted by the Nietzschean/Weberian end of Irish history. Part of the tragedy of development in the magical/terrible Faustian world of contemporary Ireland is that the casualties of accelerated modernisation are swept away by a tide of events that the actors in the contemporary Irish tragedy have helped to set in motion. The Great Hunger is usually taken to refer to the Famine of the 1840s, but for Patrick Kavanagh, the famine is a scarcity of spirituality in the 'modern Ireland' of the 1940s. John Kenny and Pat Short say that their comedy is inspired by the forms of life they are familiar with in Ireland's 'in-between' towns.
An instituted economic process approach
This chapter argues for the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features. It develops an ‘instituted economic process’ approach to the study of demand and innovation to account for processes of institutionalisation and deinstitutionalisation. Within this framework, the concept of a ‘production—distribution—retail—consumption’ configuration is seen as shaping innovation. The empirical investigations of this chapter involve analysis of how retail markets link demand with supply, and how that link is a structured one: the interface facing both ways. The chapter explores three empirical cases. The first involves the near disappearance of wholesale markets for fresh fruit and vegetables to retail markets, and the particular questions raised in terms of range and quality of products that flow through them. The second deals with an equally significant reconfiguration of the retail—distribution—production configuration reflected in the emergence of supermarket own-label products. The third raises the question of how the organisation of retail markets, and their transformation, alters the way demand is instituted between end consumers and retailers.
A critical reassessment
The single overriding factor in the 'success' of the Celtic Tiger was the arrival of huge clusters of foreign subsidiaries in a few sectors, and predominantly from the United States. The broad changes in the Irish economy during the 1990s were crucial, because there was strong evidence that growth had been associated with inequality under the Celtic Tiger. The Republic of Ireland's share of foreign investment inflows into the European Union (EU) had tripled between 1991 and 1994, as it attracted forty per cent of US electronics investments in Europe. Irish governments tightened their conservative fiscal policy of spending restraint and ran higher and higher budget surpluses. The main policy target was employment, as the country had continued to endure high unemployment rates even into the mid-1990s. Economic growth, investments, high profits, high-technology products and higher wages were heavily concentrated in the transnational corporation (TNC) sector.
This chapter offers a summary and critique of the new social democracy (NSD), focusing on the New Labour as the best exemplar of these ideas. It explains that the NSD is based upon five key principles: community, meritocracy, reciprocity, inclusion and pragmatism. This chapter suggests that community only offers a middle way between collectivism/egalitarianism and individualism, meritocracy is too weak a principle, and responsibility and reciprocity are far more complex than new social democrats imagine. It argues that the NSD is not a new politics, but is at best the first steps on a long march back towards truly progressive ideals, one from which valuable lessons can be learned, if only about how not to proceed.
This chapter analyses the new social democracy's (NSD) reciprocity in relation to the concepts of justice citizenship. It proposes a concept of distributive justice that is the product of equality of powers and diverse reciprocity. This definition diverges from New Labour's preference for weak equality plus strong reciprocity and so offers an alternative to the NSD per se. This chapter also considers an alternative vision of social citizenship.