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Community, language and culture under the Celtic Tiger
Steve Coleman

Irish language culture embodies all the tensions and contradictions historically pertaining to the relationships between community, nation and state. The Irish state has followed patterns typical of nineteenth- and twentieth-century nation building, in that it has sought to establish a unity of geographic space, language and ethnic culture. Rural Irish-speakers encountered colonial power relations, the ideologies and practices of political economy and the English language as one package. The Irish state portrayed the Gaeltacht as the 'storehouse' or 'treasure' of identity in a nation state. As 'the crucible of Irish postmodernity', the Gaeltacht has become the state's testing ground for decentralisation and local governance, as well as for the progressive recognition of linguistic and cultural minority rights. By opening up closed networks of both community and governance, Gaeltacht activism has pointed the way for the reduced role of the postmodern Irish state in its Celtic Tiger phase.

in The end of Irish history?
Acceptance, critique and the bigger picture
Anne B. Ryan

This chapter reflects on two qualitative research projects, How Was It For You? and Balancing Your Life, that was carried out between 1999 and 2001, with people experiencing both the ways of life. It discusses the connections between individual choices and the ways that economic values affect society, and asserts that the public and private spheres cannot be considered in isolation from each other. Democracy in growth economies, which include Ireland, has been undermined by the extreme wealth owned by global corporations. Limits discourses create the conditions for critical thinking about the bigger picture and the longer term. Many people consequently live in a work-earn-spend cycle, spending much of what they earn on possessions and services now considered essential for everyday life. The 'reality' discourses have the effect of making people feel trapped in a cycle of earning, working, spending, consuming and meeting financial commitments, including the servicing of debts.

in The end of Irish history?
An introduction to the book
Colin Coulter

This chapter presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book illuminates numerous dubious assumptions that inform the hitherto hegemonic readings of the nature of contemporary southern Irish society. It develops the social partnership which represents a ruse that acts to conceal and advance the interests of the most privileged sections of southern Irish society. The book argues that the institutions and agents of the state seem unable to conceive of those seeking asylum in the Irish Republic as being other than a burden. It represents an endeavour to see whether it is possible to have a fruitful critical dialogue between Marxism and postmodernism. The book illustrates the lives of people who reside in the twenty-six counties which exhibit all the pressures and dislocations that are the hallmark of the modern world.

in The end of Irish history?
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
David Slattery

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?
G. Honor Fagan

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?
Sinéad Kennedy

This chapter offers a critical examination of the realities of the Celtic Tiger for Irish women. Changes in capitalism have resulted in a transformation of family structure, sex and sexuality and, ultimately, the lives of Irish women. The principal effect of the feminisation of the workforce has been to increase the already stark class divisions among women. The lack of state-sponsored childcare and its privatised provision discriminate against working-class mothers and force them out of the workforce. Unfortunately, the trade union movement, while continuing to lobby for better childcare facilities, has capitulated to the tax credit solution. An examination of abortion law in Ireland illustrates the difficulties facing many women today and the class forces that operate in Irish society. Ireland's membership of the European Union (EU), infrastructural development and a decreased economic dependence on the United Kingdom had transformed the Irish economy by the late 1970s.

in The end of Irish history?
A critical reassessment
Denis O’Hearn

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.

in The end of Irish history?
The tragedy (and comedy) of accelerated modernisation
Kieran Keohane
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.

in The end of Irish history?
Class polarisation and neo-liberalism in the Irish Republic
Kieran Allen

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.

in The end of Irish history?