Church, state and social science in Ireland

Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937– 73

Authors: Peter Murray and Maria Feeney

From British rule the independent Irish state inherited an effectively denominational system of university education and a complementary set of science and arts institutions. Under independent rule denominational influence increased and resource starvation prevailed until the end of the 1950s. Then, as the formation of human capital, education began to be treated as an input into economic growth and American initiatives stimulated new research activity. These changes played a vital role in the rebalancing of power between the Catholic Church and the state. Social science, where the Catholic Church had been a monopoly provider, supplies a dramatic case study of the interlinking of this power shift with the process of knowledge generation.

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‘It makes excellent use of original archival research to offer new and revised perspectives, the essence of good social-science research, of which Peter Murray and Maria Feeney, of Maynooth University, are admirable and hardworking practitioners.'
Diarmaid Ferriter, University College Dublin
The Irish Times
July 2017

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