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.
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.