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Older people’s interest organisations and collective action in Ireland

The politics of old age in the twenty-first century is contentious, encompassing ideological debates about how old age is conceptualised and the rights and welfare entitlements of individuals in later life. Synthesising key theoretical writings in political science, social/critical gerontology and cultural sociology, the book provides an insight into the complexity of older people’s identity politics, its relationship with age-based social policy and how the power of older people’s interest organisations, their legitimacy and existence remain highly contingent on government policy design, political opportunity structures and the prevailing cultural and socio-economic milieu. The book situates the discussion in the international context and outlines findings of an Irish case study which explores the evolution of older people’s interest organisation in Ireland from their inception in the mid-1990s to the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The book is essential reading for policymakers and organisations interested in ageing, policy and the political process and for students of ageing, social policy and political sociology.

Why plumage matters

This book presents the rich fabric of language, clothing, food, and architecture which forms the diverse religious, political, cultural and ethnic identities of humanity. The colour of a scarf, the accent of a conversation, can unite people or divide them, and the smallest detail can play its part in signalling who are allies and who are enemies, as much for elites as for citizens in a democracy. Human identity is neither rigidly determined nor unpredictable and spontaneous, but between those two extremes is the forum on which the public life of humanity is generated. After a century in which an assumption was held across the ideological spectrum from left to right and from Marxists to economic individualists that the rational pursuit of material gain underlay social and political activity, the fundamental importance of the cultivation and preservation of identity is re-emerging across the whole spectrum of politics in which Britain is one example only. Yet while identity is the dimension in which public life is conducted, it is inherently paradoxical: on the one hand people cultivate their identity by association with a group, or religion, or nation, whilst on the other hand they distinguish themselves from their associates within those groups by presenting an intensified or purer form of the qualities which otherwise unite them. So identity simultaneously generates equality and inequality, between identification by association, and identity by exclusion and differentiation; it is both the engine of public life, and the cause of its confusion and conflict.

This Open Access edition was funded by London School of Economics and Political Science.

4 The political, economic and social policy context While it has frequently been noted that Ireland’s welfare structure has much in common with the UK’s liberal welfare state (Esping-Andersen, 1990), the Irish system does in fact differ in many ways from that of its former coloniser and closest neighbour. O’Donnell and Thomas (2006) suggest that ‘Ireland does not appear to illustrate the conclusions of Esping-Andersen’s typology, not obligingly clustering with other countries, nor finding a home easily.’ Others have classified Ireland as a ‘Catholic

in The politics of old age
How and why governments pass laws that threaten their power

Why do governments pass freedom of information laws? The symbolic power and force surrounding FOI makes it appealing as an electoral promise but hard to disengage from once in power. However, behind closed doors compromises and manoeuvres ensure that bold policies are seriously weakened before they reach the statute book.

The politics of freedom of information examines how Tony Blair's government proposed a radical FOI law only to back down in fear of what it would do. But FOI survived, in part due to the government's reluctance to be seen to reject a law that spoke of 'freedom', 'information' and 'rights'. After comparing the British experience with the difficult development of FOI in Australia, India and the United States – and the rather different cases of Ireland and New Zealand – the book concludes by looking at how the disruptive, dynamic and democratic effects of FOI laws continue to cause controversy once in operation.

USA or Sweden?

Between ‘two worlds’ of father politics represents the USA and Sweden as two ends on an international continuum in ways of thinking about fatherhood. The ‘two worlds’ model locates the decline of patriarchal male-breadwinning fatherhood as a core concern of comparative welfare state and gender studies. It offers historical accounts of the development of ‘father-friendly’ parental leave policies in Sweden and child support enforcement policies in the USA. The book brings together, major debates from child development psychology, ethology, sociology, gender studies and comparative social policy. In this way, the book synthesizes a wide breadth of comparative and inter-disciplinary analysis into a new typology or model for interpreting welfare regime approaches to contemporary fatherhood. It provides comparative analysis for students, scholars and social policy makers in the United States and Nordic countries, the UK, Ireland, Japan, China and the European Union. Overall, the book locates concepts of fatherhood, the decline of patriarchy, shared parenting and the de-commodification of parents as critical to ongoing debates about individualisation, internationalisation and the dawn of post-patriarchal welfare arrangements for the 21st century.

2 Collective action and the nexus of political and cultural systems Much of the extant research on older people’s interest organisations remains uninformed by the available body of political science and sociological literature. As a result it does not provide an adequate conceptual basis for understanding the complexity of older people’s interest organisations. It fails to offer an in-depth exploration of the contextual factors which impact upon the development, growth and survival of these groups or the discourses informing the topic of collective action of

in The politics of old age

7 The nexus of resources, political opportunity structures and collective identities This penultimate chapter considers the implications of the findings discussed in Chapters 5 and 6 for our understanding of older people’s interest organisations and the collective action of older people. It relates these findings to the literature and topics addressed in Chapters 1 to 4. Adopting Tarrow’s (2011) suggestion to synthesise the examination of the subject of collective action, it explores the interaction of political opportunity structures, organisational resources

in The politics of old age

5 Political theologies in the wake of the Celtic Tiger In the wake of the sudden death of the Celtic Tiger Irish business leaders called for the suspension of normal partisan democratic politics and the formation of a one-party government with the will to make crucial decisions necessary to deal with the ‘exceptional circumstances’ occasioned by this ‘national emergency’. The government, they charged, was drifting aimlessly, unable to clarify what needed to be done and unwilling to rule. What was needed, Ireland’s businessmen claimed, was ‘an all party

in The domestic, moral and political economies of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland

10 FOI and the remaking of politics FOI regimes exist in a constant state of change and flux with conflicting pressures to expand and be dismantled. The dynamics and contradictions that form FOI laws are carried over into their implementation. The mobilisation and counter-mobilisation continue as resources, interpretation and support are contested over the fundamental questions of ‘what’, ‘to whom’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ (Barberis 2010, 122). However, reform attempts are uncertain and frequently short-lived. Remaking politics with FOI Patashnik and Zelizer (2013

in The politics of freedom of information
What rough beast?
Series: Irish Society

This book explores the issue of a collective representation of Ireland after the sudden death of the 'Celtic Tiger' and introduces the aesthetic idea that runs throughout. The focus is on the idea articulated by W. B. Yeats in his famous poem 'The Second Coming'. The book also explores the symbolic order and imaginative structure, the meanings and values associated with house and home, the haunted houses of Ireland's 'ghost estates' and the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household. It examines the sophisticated financial instruments derived from mortgage-backed securities that were a lynchpin of global financialization and the epicentre of the crash, the question of the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household of Europe. A story about fundamental values and principles of fairness and justice is discussed, in particular, the contemporary conflict that reiterates the ancient Irish mythic story of the Tain. The book suggests correspondences between Plato's Republic and the Irish republic in the deformations and devolution of democracy into tyranny. It traces a red thread from the predicament of the ancient Athenians to contemporary Ireland in terms of the need to govern pleonexia, appetites without limits. The political and economic policies and practices of Irish development, the designation of Ireland's 'tax free zones', are also discussed. Finally, the ideal type of person who has been emerging under the auspices of the neoliberal revolution is imagined.