The Jesuits launched their journal Studies in March 1912. In its first decade, Studies reflected the Catholic constitutional nationalism that became displaced by Sinn Fein. In the pages of Studies the polarised conflict between Catholicism and liberalism claimed some accounts of the Irish modernisation break down. The Irish century exemplifies and reveals symbiosis as well as conflict between both intellectual traditions. After independence Studies published many articles on the implications of Catholic social thought as set out in the papal encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno. The 1956 IRA border campaign prompted some soul searching about the notion of a united Ireland, a hitherto taken-for-granted aspiration of constitutional nationalists writing in Studies. In a 1978 piece John Brady SJ argued that citizens of the Republic must emphasise that they did not wish to govern Northern Ireland against the wishes of the majority.
In 1933 Daniel Binchy, a professor of legal history and jurisprudence at University College Dublin (UCD), published an astute article in Studies on Adolf Hitler. In addition to Binchy's 1933 demolition of racial theory and other articles in a similar vein Studies published many other analyses of cultural and essentialist nationalism. The politics of cultural nationalism since the death of Daniel O'Connell had presented the Gaelic revival as a cultural restoration. A 1938 symposium in Studies, whereby a number of writers including Binchy responded to an article by Michael Tierney on King of the Beggars, adroitly captured the underlying intellectual politics. Implicit in Tierney's critique of how alien ideas filtered into Ireland was the absence of native political intellectual tradition. Fake traditions were useful fictions according to Tierney but ones that could best be done without according to Binchy.
The isolationism of the new state affected, even shaped, Irish writers such as Frank O'Connor and Sean O'Faoláin. The hidden Ireland that preoccupied O'Faoláin was the silent Ireland of the 1940s. O'Faoláin objected to Daniel Corkery's idealisation of an uneducated peasant culture in The Hidden Irelandas a model for independent Ireland. In O'Faoláin's version, the peasants of The Hidden Ireland were badly in need of a true political leader but hardly ready for the one that they actually got in Daniel O'Connell. O'Faoláin looked at poems from the perspective of a political historian. He argued that The Hidden Ireland 'sinned from over softness and romanticism' but acknowledged that his own King of the Beggars 'sins, perhaps, from harshness, or impatience, due to a deliberate insistence on political realism'.
The Bell was hardly unflinching throughout its fourteen or so years of existence. The Bell published new fiction and poetry for Sean O'Faoláin, was ancillary to its main intended purpose of documenting life in Irish society. A 1942 piece by O'Faoláin lambasted the response to emigration of An Glor, a fortnightly periodical published by the Gaelic League. Kelly Matthews's The Bell Magazine and the Representation of Irish Identity is primarily a work of literary criticism. Matthews is at her strongest when documenting The Bell's project of representing Irish culture and Irish identity through a focus on everyday life and homespun artefacts. Alongside articles on life in slums, and the experiences of unemployed people and of emigrants, O'Faoláin was also keen to represent the richness of Irish material culture.
In his 1959 science fiction novel Ossian's Ride Fred Hoyle imagined a near-future Ireland that has perplexed the outside world. Hoyle was preoccupied with science and progress. His protagonist eventually joined the aliens and the other scientists living and working behind what one reviewer of Ossian's Ride called the Erin curtain. Some contemporaneous assessments of the condition of Ireland examined what they saw as insurmountable barriers to progress. Ireland emerged from the war period as a creditor nation, and in a burst of good sense the government had embarked on large-scale housing and hospital building programmes and on improving social services. The notion that there was something derelict in Irish character had long been a feature of analyses of the condition of Ireland. Bishop William Philbin argued that economic development had replaced political and agrarian reform as the basis on which Ireland's future as a nation would be determined.
Sprightly venerable former Chief Justice Barrington, at the launch of Tomas Finn's book on Tuairim, described how the organisation was envisaged as a cross between the Young Irelander movement of the 1840s and the Fabian Society. Finn's cast of Tuairim characters overlap with the heroes of Lee and Garvin's narratives. Tuairim's aim was to shift public opinion and influence government policy. In Tomas Finn's analysis the Tuairim research group did not seem to believe what it was told by victims was reticent in criticising perpetrators. It argued against corporal punishment for 'sex offences' by boys because such punishment would be more psychologically harmful than the 'sex offence itself'. Tuairim was part of a new official Ireland, part of what became the dominant consensus on social and economic modernisation.
Before independence, Irish social policy had been shaped by British legislation as well as by Catholicism. Both the Church and the state came to administer demarcated areas of social policy. The Church objected to an expanded health system that threatened to interfere with the family by directly engaging with women. The Conditions of Employment Act introduced by Sean Lemass as Minister for Industry and Commerce gave the state various powers to limit the numbers of women employed in any branch of industry in order to protect male employment. Although rates of Unemployment Assistance for single men and single women were equalised under the Social Welfare Act discriminatory practices persisted such as the marriage bar and entitlements for shorter periods of time. The Employment of Married Women Act (1973) revoked discrimination against married women in the civil service, and The Employment Equality Act (1977) addressed pay inequalities.
Economic Development (1958), a report written by T.K. Whitaker, the then senior official in the Department of Finance, has been venerated as the foundation text of a new post-1950s nation-building project. The main body of the report was nothing special; it mostly focused on prospects for Irish agriculture. The second canonical text of this new developmental nation-building project was the OECD/Irish Government 1965 report Investment in Education. This has been credited with jolting the focus of Irish education from religious formation to one on economic development. By the 1960s Travellers had become economically and socially displaced from the rural society. The general movement of Travellers to urban centres was part of broader demographic changes in Irish society. Efforts to settle Travellers in designated halting sites were blocked by local politicians representing residents of whatever areas were proposed.
Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland, edited by Mark O'Brien and Felix Larkin, is the first comprehensive survey of its kind of outlets for Irish public intellectuals and journalists who shared George Orwell's reasons for writing. Whilst some of these periodicals championed reportage and were committed to investigative journalism, many were explicitly partisan in the doctrines and ideologies they championed. D. P. Moran viewed separatist nationalist rhetoric as a self-deception that reinforced Irish unionism. Under Moran's editorship The Leader advocated clerical nationalism and a pragmatic approach to Anglo-Irish relations aimed at securing Catholic influence over Irish administration. In Moran's analysis, three elements were needed to secure Irish independence. He endorsed a nationalism that insisted that to be Irish was, firstly and secondly, to be Gaelic and to be Gaelic was, with a few honourable exceptions, to be Catholic. Thirdly, Moran emphasised economic development as a means to self-determination.
In Inside the Celtic Tiger: The Irish Economy and the Asian Model (1998), Denis O'Hearn argued that the few widely agreed characteristics of tiger economies were largely descriptive and superficial. Whilst Irish growth rates stood out compared to the rest of the European Union, these were modest compared to Taiwan and the other East Asian economic tigers. By the end of the 1960s, state-led industrial-development policies had emerged in both countries, which rapidly expanded levels of indigenous human capital between 1960 and 1980. There were some broad similarities between the development trajectories of the Irish and Asian tiger economies. In the Irish case, according to Sean O'Riain, a 'flexible-developmental state' emerged whereby the state encouraged corporatist planning alongside neo-liberal responses to globalisation. Unlike Taiwan, Ireland was a multi-party democracy where the state had a limited capacity to command the economy and direct the productive capacities of society.