The Republic of Ireland – Economic and Social Ecology in a Layered Perspective

by Andrea Jende (Author)
©2021 Thesis 304 Pages


Understanding human behavior and decision-making processes is a significant challenge within many fields of research. This doctoral thesis shows how human activities are characterized by multiple interconnected contexts and demonstrates the advantages of using a multi-layered model to examine interactions between social, economic and cultural factors. The model presented here offers large benefits for various target groups as it can be applied to a wide range of research fields. Consequently, this analysis supports an interdisciplinary approach to economics.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Preface
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Introduction
  • Motivation
  • Scope
  • Theoretical and Practical Relevance of the Research
  • Current State of Research of the Multi-Level Framework
  • Objective and Problem Statement
  • Brief Description of the Research Design
  • Dissertation Outline
  • Chapter 1: The Role of History, Culture and Identity
  • 1 History
  • 1.1 History and Collective Memory
  • 1.2 History and Identity
  • 1.3 Historical Trauma
  • 1.4 Conclusion – The Importance of History for the Present
  • 2 Culture
  • 2.1 Characteristics of Culture
  • 2.1.1 Visible and Invisible Elements of Culture
  • 2.1.2 Culture is Learned
  • 2.1.3 Culture Presupposes a Collectivity
  • 2.1.4 Culture Influences Behavior
  • 2.1.5 Cultures are Dynamic Systems
  • 2.2 Manifestation of Culture – The Onion Model
  • 2.2.1 Symbols
  • 2.2.2 Heroes
  • 2.2.3 Rituals
  • 2.2.4 Practices
  • 2.2.5 Values
  • 2.3 Stability and Change of National Culture
  • 3 Identity
  • 3.1 Characteristics of Identity
  • 3.2 Categories of Identity
  • 3.2.1 Personal Identity
  • 3.2.2 Social Identity
  • 3.2.3 Cultural Identity
  • 3.2.4 National Identity
  • 3.3 The Dark Side of Identity
  • 3.3.1 Stereotypes
  • 3.3.2 Ethnocentrism
  • 3.3.3 Prejudice
  • 3.3.4 Racism
  • 3.4 Conclusion
  • 3.5 Distinction between Culture and Identity
  • Chapter 2: Presentation and Examination of Different Theoretical Frameworks on Culture
  • 1 Cultural Anthropological Models
  • 1.1 Overview of Cultural Models
  • 1.2 Discussion of Selected Cultural Models
  • 1.3 Review and Conclusion of Cultural Models
  • 2 Dynamics in Changes of Basic Orientations
  • 2.1 The European Values Study (EVS)
  • 2.1.1 Life
  • 2.1.2 Family
  • 2.1.3 Work
  • 2.1.4 Religion
  • 2.1.5 Politics
  • 2.1.6 Society
  • 2.2 European Social Survey (ESS)
  • 2.2.1 Main Objectives of the Study
  • 2.2.2 Research Modules
  • 2.3 Review and Conclusion of the Presented Intercultural Comparative Studies
  • 3. Methodology – The Social Ecological Framework
  • 3.1 Description of the Concept
  • 3.1.1 The Individual
  • 3.1.2 The Microsystem
  • 3.1.3 The Mesosystem
  • 3.1.4 The Exosystem
  • 3.1.5 The Macrosystem
  • 3.1.6 The Chronosystem
  • 3.2 Relationship of the Layers to Each Other
  • 3.2.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 3.2.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 3.2.3 Interactive Effects
  • 3.3 Genetic Inheritance in Ecological Perspective
  • 3.3.1 Process
  • 3.3.2 Person
  • 3.3.3 Context
  • 3.3.4 Time
  • 3.4 History and the Social Ecological Framework
  • 3.5 Review and Conclusion of the Social Ecological Approach
  • Chapter 3: History, Cultural Characteristics and Manifestation of Culture Illustrated by the Example of the Republic of Ireland
  • 1 The Historical Development of Ireland
  • 1.1 The Beginnings
  • 1.2 The Normans
  • 1.3 The Union
  • 1.4 The Great Famine
  • 1.5 The Home Rule
  • 1.6 The Path to Independence
  • 2 Characteristics of Irish Culture
  • 2.1 Irish Language as a Cultural Element
  • 2.2 How Irish Culture is Learned
  • 2.3 Irish Collectivity
  • 2.4 The Influence of Irish Affiliation on Behavior
  • 2.5 The Dynamics of Irish Culture
  • 3 The Irish Onion
  • 3.1 Symbols
  • 3.1.1 The Harp
  • 3.1.2 The Shamrock
  • 3.1.3 The Flags
  • 3.1.4 The National Anthem
  • 3.1.5 The High Cross
  • 3.1.6 Saint Patrick’s Bell
  • 3.2 Heroes
  • 3.2.1 The Mythological Hero Cú Chulainn
  • 3.2.2 St. Patrick (4th/ 5th Century)
  • 3.2.3 Brian Boru (roughly 941–1014)
  • 3.2.4 Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–1891)
  • 3.2.5 Éamon de Valera (1882–1975)
  • 3.3 Rituals
  • 3.3.1 St. Patrick’s Day
  • 3.3.2 St. Brighid’s Day
  • 3.3.3 Beltane
  • 3.3.4 Lughnasadh
  • 3.3.5 Samhain
  • 3.3.6 Bloomsday
  • 3.4 Resume of the Irish Onion
  • Chapter 4: The Economy of Ireland
  • 1 Some Essential Macroeconomic Aggregates
  • 2 Background Influences
  • 2.1 Contributing Factors to the U.S. Housing Bubble
  • 2.2 Stability Mechanisms in the U.S. – The Federal Reserve System (Fed)
  • 3 Economic Development of Ireland
  • 3.1 The Economic History of Ireland
  • 3.2 The Celtic Tiger 1994–2007
  • 3.2.1 Evaluation of Ireland’s Economic Growth
  • 3.2.2 Comparison of the Celtic Tiger with the Asian Tigers
  • 3.3 The Irish Housing Boom
  • 3.4 Busting of the Property Bubble – The Property Market Crisis
  • 3.5 Fiscal Crisis
  • 3.6 Banking Crisis
  • 3.7 The Guarantee Decision
  • 3.8 Bailout and EU – IMF Program
  • Chapter 5: A Layered Perspective on the Social Ecology of Ireland
  • 1 A Layered Perspective on Personal Identity and Irish Legislation
  • 1.1 Value of Family in Irish Society
  • 1.2 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 1.3 Top-Down Effects
  • 1.4 Interactive Effects
  • 1.4.1 Media Influences
  • 1.4.2 Social Influences
  • 1.4.3 Economic Influences
  • 2 A Layered Perspective on Religious Affiliation
  • 2.1 Religion as a Part of Identity
  • 2.2 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 2.3 Top-Down Effects
  • 2.4 Interactive Effects
  • 2.4.1 Emergence of a Catholic Irish Identity
  • 2.4.2 Religious Affiliation in the Present
  • 3 A Layered Perspective on Health Care Contexts
  • 3.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 3.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 3.3 Interactive Effects
  • 4 A Layered Perspective on Attributions and Attitudes
  • 4.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 4.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 4.3 Interactive Effects
  • 5 A Layered Perspective on Media
  • 5.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 5.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 5.2.1 Reinforcement of Irish Stereotypes by Irish Companies
  • 5.2.2 Reinforcement of Irish Stereotypes by the Irish Government
  • 5.3 Interactive Effects
  • 6 A Layered Perspective on History
  • 6.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 6.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 6.3 Interactive Effects
  • Chapter 6: A Layered Perspective on the Economic Ecology of Ireland
  • 1 A Layered Perspective on Housing Acquisition
  • 1.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 1.1.1 Responsibility of Irish Households with Regard to their Balance Sheet
  • 1.1.2 Responsibility of Irish Households with Regard to Herd Behavior
  • 1.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 1.3 Interactive Effects
  • 1.3.1 Historically Determined Pursuit of Property
  • 1.3.2 Social Identity and Ownership
  • 2 A Layered Perspective on Irish Politics
  • 2.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 2.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 2.3 Interactive Effects
  • 3 A Layered Perspective on the Irish Banks
  • 3.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 3.1.1 Revelations of the Irish Independent
  • 3.1.2 International Reactions
  • 3.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 3.3 Interactive Effects
  • 4 A Layered Perspective on the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ireland (IFSRA)
  • 4.1 Structure of the CBFSAI
  • 4.2 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 4.2.1 The Financial Regulator
  • 4.2.2 The Central Bank of Ireland
  • 4.3 Top-Down Effects
  • 4.3.1 The IMF Country Reports
  • 4.3.2 The Role of the ECB
  • 4.4 Interactive Effects
  • 5 A Layered Perspective on External Control Mechanisms
  • 5.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 5.1.1 The Role of the Rating Agencies
  • 5.1.2 The Role of Other External Control Mechanisms
  • 5.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 5.3 Interactive Effects
  • 6 A Layered Perspective on Media
  • 6.1 Bottom-Up Effects
  • 6.1.1 Critical Voices in the Media and Reactions
  • 6.1.2 Critical Voices from Politicians and Financial Experts
  • 6.2 Top-Down Effects
  • 6.3 Interactive Effects
  • Chapter 7: A Layered Perspective on Economic Development and Cultural Change of Ireland
  • 1 The Chronosystem
  • 2 The Social Ecological Macro-Level Analysis
  • 3 The Social Ecological Exo-Level Analysis
  • 3.1 The Environment of the Divorce Referendum 1986
  • 3.2 The Environment of the Divorce Referendum 1995
  • 4 The Social Ecological Meso-Level Analysis
  • 4.1 The Environment of the Divorce Referendum 1986
  • 4.2 The Environment of the Divorce Referendum 1995
  • 5 The Social Ecological Micro-Level Analysis
  • 6 The Individual in the Social Ecological Perspective
  • Chapter 8: Conclusions and Discussion
  • 1 Conclusion
  • 2 Discussion
  • 2.1 Implications and Limitations of the Layered Perspective
  • 2.1.1 Implications and Limitations for the Practical Application of a Layered Perspective
  • 2.1.2 Implications and Limitations for the Theoretical Application of a Layered Perspective
  • 2.2 Recommendations for Further Research
  • References

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List of Figures

Figure 1: Hofstede’s ‘Onion Diagram’ Illustrates How Culture Appears at Different Levels of Depth (Hofstede, 2003, p. 11)

Figure 2: The Stabilizing of Culture Patterns Based on Hofstede (Hofstede, 2003, p. 12)

Figure 3: Illustration of the Layered Approach Based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory of Human Development (Tregaskis, 2015)

Figure 4: Illustration of the Chronosystem Based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework for Human Development (Bronfenbrenner, 1994)

Figure 5: Illustration of the Layers Based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory of Human Development Extended to Include Top-Down and Bottom-Up Effects (Tregaskis, 2015)

Figure 6: Bronfenbrenner’s Five Systems That Influence Human Development (Tudge et al., 2009)

Figure 7: Map of Ireland: Republic of Ireland defined by Red Borders (Koczy, 2019)

Figure 8: American fast food chain advertisement for a green-dyed, mint-flavored milkshake, published in 2017 (Lonergan, 2017; Mulraney, 2017)

Figure 9: Guinness Uses the Harp Symbol on Their Beer and Merchandising Products (Photos Taken by the Author, 2017)

Figure 10: Examples for the Transformations of the Irish Harp Emblem by Different Government Departments, for Example The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS, 2013)

Figure 11: Examples for the Transformations of the Irish Harp Emblem by Different Government Departments, for Example The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM, 2016)

Figure 12: Presidential Standard (Mayes, 2013)

Figure 13: Green Flag with a Golden Harp (Department of the Taoiseach, 2016)

Figure 14: The National Flag of Ireland: a Tricolor with Green, White, and Orange (Department of the Taoiseach, 2016)

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Figure 15: High Cross, Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly (Photo Taken by the Author)

Figure 16: Coptic Curtain, 5th/ 6th Century, Linen and Wool Tapestry Weave (Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2016)

Figure 17: The Faddan More Psalter (National Museum of Ireland, 2016a)

Figure 18: The Bell of St. Patrick, AD 8th/ 9th Century, Armagh, Co. Armagh (National Museum of Ireland, 2016b)

Figure 19: Shrine of St. Patrick’s Bell, Front View, Side View and Back View, Approximately AD 1100, Armagh, Co. Armagh (Paor, L. de, 1978)

Figure 20: Bronze Sculpture of Cu Chulainn in the GPO, Dublin (Lynch, 2003, p. 1090)

Figure 21: Charles Stewart Parnell, ‘uncrowned king of Ireland’ (McCaffrey, 2006, p. 183)

Figure 22: Éamon de Valera in 1919/ 1920 (Fanning, 2015, picture bonuses between p. 148 and p. 149)

Figure 23: GDP Growth (Annual Percentage) Ireland and EU 1973–1994 (World Bank Group, 2017e)

Figure 24: Ireland Government Debt to GDP 1984–1994 (Fedec and Sousa, 2012)

Figure 25: Unemployment, Total in Percent in Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy between 1983 and 1994 (World Bank Group, 2017f)

Figure 26: Unemployment, Total (Percentage of Total Labor Force) 1984–1994 (World Bank Group, 2017g)

Figure 27: Decline of Unemployment in the Celtic Tiger Years 1994–2007 (World Bank Group, 2017l)

Figure 28: House Completions in Thousand in Ireland Between 1990 and 2006 (Whelan, 2010)

Figure 29: The Total Stock of Dwellings in Ireland between 1991 and 2008 (Whelan, 2010)

Figure 30: A Layered Perspective Based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory (Tregaskis, 2015)

Figure 31: Percentage of Irish People Who Say Family is ‘Very Important’ or ‘Quite Important’ in Their Lives in 2008 (Atlas of European Values, 2011a)

Figure 32: Religious Affiliation of the Irish 1861–2011 in Percent of People interviewed (Dalton and Cavan, 2014)

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Figure 33: ‘The British Lion and the Irish Monkey,’ April 8, 1848 (Lemon, 1848)

Figure 34: ‘The Irish Frankenstein. “The baneful and blood-stained Monster *** yet was it not my Master to the very extent that it was my Creature? *** Had I not breathed into it my own spirit?”,’ May 20, 1882 (Burnand, 1882)

Figure 35: ‘Irish True’ Advertising Campaign of Tullamore Dew in 2011 (Charles, 2011)

Figure 36: Method of the Analysis of the Decision-Making Process in the Divorce Referendums of 1986 and 1995

Figure 37: Examination model using the examples of culture, society, and economy

Figure 38: Examination model using the example of society in comparison to two different points in time

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In 2007, the dominant topic in the media was the emerging global economic crisis. In the following months, leading politicians and financial experts stated that they were shocked when they were confronted with the true extent of the crisis (Kloepfer, 2008; Reinhart and Rogoff, 2009). The New York Times even titled the crisis as a ‘near-death experience’ for the European economic and monetary union (Castle, 2013). Many banks all over Europe and also in the USA had to be saved from bankruptcy so that governments were forced to lend hitherto unprecedented aid to the global financial system (Kloepfer, 2008; Dill, 2009). Even today, over ten years after the crisis, many private households but also entire nations, such as Greece and Italy, are still suffering from its effects (Ettel and Zschäpitz, 2015). In the years that followed the crisis, there were many discussions and publications concerning the causes and course of the crisis. According to Reinhart and Rogoff (2009) many decision-makers in politics and business argued that this crisis was not comparable to any past situation. However, after analyzing different crises of the past 800 years, Reinhart and Rogoff conclude that the same mistakes were made over and over again. This time, some contexts had also been ignored completely which led to the massive recession (Eichengreen, 2015). Yet, despite the findings of past analyses and a better informed policy regarding macro-economic aspects, the recent economic crisis could not be prevented. Although it is known how crises develop and in spite of the knowledge about economic and political instruments for the prevention of crisis, both the government and the economy seem to be powerless against the recurrence of crises (Reinhart and Rogoff, 2009). This led to the motivation to find out whether other factors exist that could promote the emergence of financial crises – factors that were neglected in previous economic analyses.


In order to identify further possible factors that contribute to the emergence of a financial crisis, it was necessary to select a national economy as research subject which was significantly affected by the financial crisis of 2007. Thus, the Republic of Ireland appeared to be a suitable subject of investigation due to its extraordinary economic development in the last few decades. The country experienced an unprecedented economic upturn – unique in Europe and often ←27 | 28→compared to the fast rise of the Asian Tiger economies and is therefore also labeled the Celtic Tiger. However, a decade later, the financial crisis hit the Irish economy and Ireland experienced an exceptional economic breakdown. As a result, it ended up as one of the euro zone nations besides Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus that was hit so hard by the economic crisis that it had to enter the international bailout program (Castle, 2013). When Ireland is generally mentioned in the course of this dissertation this always refers specifically to the Republic of Ireland.

The holistic analysis carried out here is intended to identify factors – besides an analysis focusing only on economic factors – that may have influenced the economic development of Ireland. Therefore, the analysis includes economic aspects but also the human factor in line with the basic assumption of the dissertation that economic decisions are made by human beings.

This dissertation argues that economic developments, such as crises, can be better understood if not only the instruments of an economic system, such as monetary policy or lending practices, are analyzed but also the human factor is taken into account. It assumes that merely examining the economic processes leads to misleading results when non-economic factors, such as influences on behavior and decision-making processes, are neglected in the analysis (Lee, 1989). Therefore, various factors that influenced behavior and decision-making processes in many different areas, such as private households, politics, financial institutions, and the media, are examined with regard to their contribution to the crisis. This approach can be assigned to the research field of behavioral economics which deals with human behavior in economic situations. Behavioral economists investigate the way people make economic choices and judgments (Cialdini, 2018). Lin (2011) stresses the importance of the interdisciplinary field of behavioral economics because its application offers new insights. The core assumption is that economic actors are not as reasonable as the idealized homo economicus (the economic actor who acts absolutely rational to maximize his or her own utility) of neoclassical economic theory but instead make their decisions depending on many other influences (Thaler, 2016; Lin, 2011; Rolle, 2005).

Consequently, an analysis of the influences and interactions of the cultural, social and economic environments results in a holistic picture of Irish social and economic development. Thus, the dissertation deals with Social and Economic Ecology in a Layered Perspective.

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Theoretical and Practical Relevance of the Research

Many researchers, such as Slater, Snyder, and Hayes (2006), Zhang and Ting-Toomey (2014), and Lejano and Stokols (2013), emphasize the benefits of the application of a layered perspective or multi-level theoretical framework. Slater, Snyder, and Hayes (2006) argue that there are multiple benefits, for instance, for the field of communication research because the analysis of communication must also take into account biological, psychological, sociological, and cultural phenomena. They state that this research field has suffered because the researchers were, for example psychologists, sociologists, or anthropologists and, therefore, only considered their respective research issues and thus, neglected seeing the whole picture (Slater, Snyder, and Hayes, 2006).


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (February)
behavioral economics decision-making processes cultural change financial crisis European Values Survey (EVS) social development cross-cultural studies environment economic development social ecological model
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 304 pp., 6 fig. col., 32 fig. b/w, 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Andrea Jende (Author)

Andrea Jende has studied Business Administration and earned her doctoral degree at the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg.


Title: The Republic of Ireland – Economic and Social Ecology in a Layered Perspective
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306 pages