Social research and state planning
in Church, state and social science in Ireland
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Chapter 6 examines the relationship between the programming state and social research. Initial crisis conditions had enabled increased social spending to be left off the government programmers’ agenda. The changed politics of increasing prosperity, as well as their own expanding ambitions, meant that this could no longer be sustained during the 1960s. Ireland’s social security provision became an object of both political debate and social scientific analysis in this period. The official response to this ferment was a Social Development Programme to which the ESRI was initially seen as a vital provider of inputs. During the 1960s a Save the West movement challenged both programmers and governing politicians. The official response to this challenge involved new structures for rural development with which the social sciences interacted as well as expanded social welfare provision to a class of smallholders whose resilience would later become an object of significant sociological study. As the 1960s proceeded, however, Irish state plans and programmes had to contend with an increasingly difficult external environment with which they ultimately failed to cope.

Church, state and social science in Ireland

Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937– 73


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