This chapter examines the origins and changing context of racism in Irish society. This relates to shifting understandings of race and racial distinctiveness, which have impacted upon Irish society. Ireland has a shared history of race and racism with other western countries as well as its own specific engagements with black societies through colonialism. Contemporary manifestations of racism are coded in a language that aims to circumvent accusations of racism. In the case of 'new racism' race is coded as culture. However, biological or phenotypical distinctions are at the heart of the distinctions made between cultures. The monocultural Irish society at the heart of theorising about Irish xenophobia is itself a social construct that emerged from a nineteenth-century discourse of nation-building with represented nations as races. Irish identity was not just constructed in opposition to Britishness. It was expressed in a sense of national pride in Irish missionary efforts.
This chapter examines dominant conceptions of Irish national identity. It explores the development of exclusionary conceptions of identity homogeneity linked to nationalism and nation-building from the nineteenth century onwards with reference to the experiences of Protestant, Jewish and Traveller minority communities. The new sporting 'traditions' fostered a republicanism which equated Irishness with Catholicism. Social policy was to some extent shaped by ideological aspirations for a Gaelic-Catholic Ireland. Throughout the nineteenth century profound shifts occurred within Irish nationalism whereby one hegemonic construction of Irishness which emphasised the Irishness of the minority Protestant elite was gradually displaced by a new Catholic 'Irish-Ireland' nationalist hegemony. The relationship between nationalism and anti-Semitism in 1904 was therefore characterised by a number of elements. After the 1920s the Protestant community lost their distinct political identity within Irish politics.
This chapter considers anti-Semitism in Irish society from independence in 1922 until the 1950s with a specific focus upon Ireland's response to Jewish refugees before, during and after the Holocaust. Bauman argues that the Holocaust was the consequence of bureaucratic and rational characteristics of modern western societies whereby modernity became a precondition for the expression of a particular genocidal form of racism. The chapter argues that the mainstream politics of post-independence Ireland never embraced anti-Semitism, because of the absence of a perceived 'Jewish problem' in Irish society. Twentieth century expressions of anti-Semitism in Ireland constructed the Jews as enemies of the Church and enemies of the nation; though perhaps here the distinction was a subtle and unnecessary one within the context of a hegemonically Catholic nation state. The anti-Semitism which found expression in Irish immigration practices from the 1930s to the 1950s was similarly grounded in prevalent racialisations and stereotypes.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Catholic thinkers were preoccupied with the threats that secular, liberal and socialist ideals presented to religiosity. English Catholics like Robert Hugh Benson and Hillaire Belloc viewed the survival of Catholicism in post-Reformation Ireland as a historical miracle. For more than half a century, Catholic sociology articulated influential visions of Ireland's future. In the absence of a realistic socialist threat, the main focus of Catholic sociology was to understand and combat any kind of voice of social change that might foster secularism. The initial intellectual project of Catholic sociology was to combat the influence of socialism. Sociology for both Fr Edward Cahill and Jeremiah Newman was the science of reproducing Catholic Ireland from one generation to the next. Both emphasised the role of law in enforcing Catholic public morality and thereby enforcing social norms that were in accordance with Catholic ideals.
This chapter focuses on the experiences of immigrants as a part of Irish society and on their relationship with the twenty-first-century Irish nation. Politicians and media refer immigrants as the new Irish. Non-Irish nationals according to the 2011 Census made up more than eleven per cent of the population of the Republic of Ireland. But immigrants constituted only about one half of one per cent of Irish citizens living in the Republic. The vast majority of Irish citizens are drawn from the same ethnic group. Irishness still seems to be heavily associated with the majority ethnic identity. The place of naturalised immigrants within this Irish nation remains somewhat ambiguous. Most immigrants lie empirically outside the Irish nation as this is institutionalised though citizenship. Localism within politics and community life has the potential to offer wider definitions of what it is to be Irish than those institutionalised within the nation-state.
Bryan Fanning argues that the large-scale immigration into Ireland during the Celtic Tiger period had its roots in a post-1950s nation-building project of economic development which superseded an economically and culturally isolationist Irish-Ireland period. The lack of political debate about this post-1990s immigration is an eloquent silence and Fanning attempts to fill the void by offering an insightful discussion of immigration in the Celtic Tiger period. This chapter focuses on sociological explanations for Ireland's apolitical embrace of social transformation through immigration during the first decade of the twenty-first century. The speed with which this occurred owed much to the economic boom. Prosperity fostered the quiet transformation of Ireland but did not on its own explain the lack of political controversy about immigration and the absence of anti-immigrant politics even when boom turned to bust and the large-scale emigration of Irish citizens resumed. The chapter notes that immigrants who found themselves displaced from Ireland during the economic crash found themselves on the same boats and planes as Irish citizens displaced through unemployment from Ireland. Immigrants who managed to remain in employment seemed to be as integrated or socially included as any other such fortunate members of Irish society.
Why did a country adept at squeezing out surplus family members since the Famine, one that defined itself as monocultural, one that found it difficult to accommodate its small Jewish, Protestant and Traveller minorities, somehow embrace large-scale immigration? This book examines the role of social policy rather than symbolic politics in promoting or impeding integration in Ireland. A core argument is that integration debates and goals cannot be meaningfully detached from the social inclusion goals understood to apply to Irish citizens. The conversations about integration conducted from different angles in different chapters are variously framed in conceptual debates about social capital, cultural capital, human capital, and human capability. Various chapters examine institutional barriers to integration in the domains of education, social policy, and politics and citizenship. Collectively, the literatures on capabilities, social capital, cultural capital, and psychological well-being emphasise the complexity of processes of social exclusion and inclusion.
In 2004, the Republic of Ireland became one of just three European Union member states (along with the UK and Sweden) that agreed to allow unrestricted immigrants from the ten new EU-accession states. Also in 2004, the Irish government introduced a referendum on citizenship. The contemporaneous government decision in 2004 to engineer rapid, large-scale immigration from within the EU barely caused a political ripple. Arguably, what is being harmonised through the EU is not one single integration paradigm but a number of social, institutional, and political ones. The harmonisation of integration has emerged in a context of multiculturalism writ large, where the politics of incommensurability — the Europe of continual wars and, in Ireland, sectarian conflict predicated on the religious and political divisions of the Reformation — has been tamed, but by no means eliminated. Developmental modernity by no means constitutes an end of Irish history. The developmental case for large-scale immigration evaporated overnight. What remains, in essence, is the yet-to-be-assessed social cost of rapid and large-scale immigration as one of several challenges to social cohesion.
This chapter explores ideological, normative, and empirical claims about social cohesion that have a bearing on Irish responses to immigration. It draws on Emile Durkheim's classic sociological account of social cohesion to examine some of the underlying presumptions that have come to be influential in the Irish case. An influential governance security perspective worked to circumscribe state commitments to integration. The subtext here was the implicit definition of social cohesion in terms of the existing bounded community; its underlying normative presumptions are examined using Durkheim's concept of the ‘social fact’. The second proposition considered here is Robert Putnam's assertion that immigration undermines social cohesion. This chapter also discusses the findings of a study which compared ‘socially included’ immigrants with relatively low levels of social capital but high levels of human capital with ‘socially excluded’ Irish neighbours who nevertheless had high levels of social capital. Interpretations of the challenge to social cohesion depend on whether this is defined in terms of social capital (trust and reciprocity) or social inclusion (socio-economic and human capital terms).
The 2006 Irish Census identified a population of 4,239,848 persons. Of the ‘usually resident’ population, 610,000 (14.7 percent) were born outside the Republic of Ireland. Of these, approximately 10 percent were ‘non-Irish nationals’. Just more than 10 percent of children in Ireland in 2006 were born in other countries such as England and Wales, United States, Poland, Lithuania, and other European Union countries. Some 7.4 percent of identified children living in the Republic of Ireland do not have Irish citizenship. The British experience indicates that racism, discrimination, and other barriers to integration are experienced differently and with different consequences by different groups. This can be translated, in the Irish case, into a hypothesis that Chinese, Polish, Lithuanian or Nigerian immigrants will experience different opportunities for and barriers to integration. Asylum seekers comprised a major strand of immigration. Comprehensively disaggregated data can serve to explode myths, such as those about ghettos considered in this chapter, as well as provide an evidence base to address actual risks of social exclusion amongst immigrants, particularly those who settle in disadvantaged areas.