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Posted: 06 December 2007

Is Ireland Different Anymore?

What makes Irish people different? This is the simple question behind Tom Inglis’s new book Global Ireland: Same Difference. Not long ago, the Republic of Ireland was a relatively small, isolated, insular society in which the majority of people were white, Catholic and English-speaking. There was a sameness to everyday life, to the way people saw and understood themselves, and the world in which they lived. It was this similarity that made the Irish different.

Much has changed in the last fifty years. Ireland has opened up to the world. The global flows of people, technology, goods, media messages, knowledge and ideas have transformed the way people live their lives, the way they work, their identities and sense of self. Ireland has moved from a being a society and culture dominated by the Catholic Church to a consumer society dominated by the market and the media. Irish people have become less obsessed with salvation and more obsessed with fulfilling their fantasies and desires. Ireland has moved rapidly from a culture of self-denial to a culture of self-indulgence.

The question then is – have Irish people managed to maintain a sense of national difference in a sea of Western consumer sameness? To help answer this question, Tom Inglis looks at the transformations that have taken place in family, community, tradition and place. He argues that to understand the impact globalisation has had on Irish culture, it is necessary to look at the local and the personal.

Inglis argues that what makes Ireland different, exciting and attractive is the way that it combines the old with the new; a commitment to traditional ways of bonding and belonging is mixed with a new freedom and ability for people to explore, express and indulge themselves.

Global Ireland raises fundamental questions about where we have come from and where we are going. It is written in an exciting, lively and engaging manner that will make it attractive to all those interested about the nature and direction of life in contemporary Ireland.

Tom Inglis is an Associate Professor in the UCD School of Sociology. He completed his bachelor and master degrees in UCD before studying for his PhD in Southern Illinois University. He worked for a number of years with AONTAS, the National Association of Adult Education before rejoining UCD in 1991. He has written extensively on contemporary Irish culture and society. His books include Moral Monopoly: The Rise and Fall of the Catholic Church in Modern Ireland, Lessons in Irish Sexuality and Truth, Power and Lies: Irish Society and the Case of the Kerry Babies.

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Is Ireland Different Anymore?