Irish Society: Stasis and Change in the Ambiguous Republic

University of Galway

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Irish Society: Stasis and Change in the Ambiguous Republic

  • Host University

    University of Galway

  • Location

    Galway, Ireland

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, Celtic Studies, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    This course cannot be taken at the same time as SU407 Introduction to Art in Ireland.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Irish Society underwent profound and relatively rapid social changes during the 20th century. In this course, we will be using a sociological lens, and the sociological imagination, to examine some of these changes, and their results. As we will see, even planned socio-economic change can have far-reaching unplanned social consequences. The two underlying questions that we will attempt to answer as we move through the course topics are: How has Irish society been changed by the economic transformation that was initiated in the 1950s and What are the main forces shaping Irish society today.


    On completion of this course, students will be able to provide a critical analysis of social, economic and political changes that have taken place in contemporary Irish society. They will be have an understanding of the way basic institutions operate within the society; and major social problems facing Irish society today.


    The basic texts for this course will be Share, Corcoran & Conway (2012) A Sociology of Ireland (4th ed if possible), Gill and Macmillan and O’Sullivan, Sara (ed.) 2007. Contemporary Ireland: A Sociological Map, UCD. You will received detailed reading suggestions for each lecture directly. Listed below are considered the core or required readings for each lecture. Lecture notes will be on Blackboard.


    Week 1

    • L1: Introduction to Irish Society course
    • Topic 1: Changing Economy – Changing Society
    • L2: Social and Economic Change in Ireland
      • Required Readings: Inglis, Tom. 2008. Global Ireland: Same Difference. London: Routledge (chapter 1); Wickham, J. “The end of the European Social Model”
    • L3: Economy, Work and Development
      • Required Reading: Share Ch. 3 “The dynamics of Irish development”; O’Sullivan Ch.13 “Globalization, the State and Ireland’s Miracle Economy”

    Week 2:

    • Topic 2: Changing Social Institutions
    • L4: The Changing Church in Contemporary Ireland
      • Requireed Readings: Share et. al. Ch. 13 “Religion”; O’Sullivan Ch.4 “Individualism and Secularization in Ireland”.
    • L5: The Changing Irish Family
      • Required Readings: Share Ch.8 “Gender, Sexuality and the Family” and; and O’Sullivan Ch. 5 Family.”
    • L6: Education and Schooling in Ireland
      • Required Readings: Share et. al. Ch.7 “Education”, O’ Sullivan (eds) Ch.6.

    Week 3:

    • L7: Irish Women and Social Change
      • Readings: Share et. al. Ch.9 “Gender, Sexuality and the Family”; O’Sullivan Ch. 15 “Gender and the Workplace”, CSO (2011) ‘Men and Women in Ireland
    • L8: The Media in Irish Society
      • Required Readings: Share Ch. 14 “Media”; O’Sullivan Ch.8 “Modern media, Modern Ireland, Same Old Story.”
    • L9: Sport in Irish Society
      • Required Readings: O’Sullivan Ch. 9; Dolan & Connolly (2009) ‘The Civilizing of Hurling in Ireland’ (Blackboard).

    S1: Seminar: Discussion of “Global as Local” Ch. 1 in Global Ireland by Tom Inglis And J.Wickham “The end of the European Social Model?”

    • L10: Power in Irish Society Share, Ch 5; O’Sullivan Ch 11.

    Week 4

    • Topic 3: Problems and Processes in Contemporary Irish Society
    • L11: Education, Poverty and Class Inequality in Ireland
      • Required Readings: Share et. al. Ch.7 “Education”, pp.171-177; Gray & O’Carroll (2012) ‘Education and Class-formation in 20th Century Ireland: A Retrospective Qualitative Longitudinal Analysis’ (Blackboard); O’Sullivan Ch. 17 Social Class
    • L.12: Immigration and Racism in Irish Society
      • Required Readings: Share et. al. Ch. 11; Fanning, Bryan. 2012 (2nd ed) Racism and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland, Ch2 ‘Racism in Ireland’.
    • L13: Crime in Irish Society
      • Required Readings: Share et. al. Ch. 10 “Crime and Deviance”; O’Sullivan Ch. 7 “Crime, policing and social control” Crime statistics are available in CSO quarterly reports at Publications on crime in Ireland are often made available on the Irish crime council’s website.
    • L14: Culture and Change
      • Required Reading: Cunningham & McDonagh (Eds) Ch. 29 ‘More undertones than the Clash: Popular music in Galway 1960-2000, Hannon, J (2020) Hardiman and After: Galway Culture and Society 1820-2020

    S2: Seminar: The Ambiguity of Social Change.


    • Attendance at lectures and participation in seminars.
    • One essay of 1500 words on a topic of your choice from the course syllabus. Worth 60% of your final mark.
    • One written examinations of material covered in the course. Worth 40% of your final mark.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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