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Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland

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Edited By Eamon Maher

In the space of a few short decades, Ireland has become one of the most globalised societies in the Western world. The full ramifications of this transformation for traditional Irish communities, religious practice, economic activity, as well as literature and the arts, are as yet unknown. What is known is that Ireland’s largely unthinking embrace of globalisation has at times had negative consequences. Unlike some other European countries, Ireland has eagerly and sometimes recklessly grasped the opportunities for material advancement afforded by the global project.
This collection of essays, largely the fruit of two workshops organised under the auspices of the Humanities Institute of Ireland at University College Dublin and the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, explores how globalisation has taken such a firm hold on Irish society and provides a cultural perspective on the phenomenon. The book is divided into two sections. The first examines various manifestations of globalisation in Irish society whereas the second focuses on literary representations of globalisation. The contributors, acknowledged experts in the areas of cultural theory, religion, sociology and literature, offer a panoply of viewpoints of Ireland’s interaction with globalisation.

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Introduction Eamon Maher 1

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Introduction Eamon Maher It is a truism to state that in the space of a few decades Ireland became one of the most globalised societies in the Western world. The full ramifications of such a transformation for traditional Irish communities, religious practice, economic activity, literature and the arts, are as yet unknown. What we do know is that Ireland’s unthinking embrace of globalisation has at times had negative consequences. Unlike some other European countries, France and Germany in particular, Ireland eagerly and sometimes recklessly grasped the opportunities for material advancement afforded by the global project. The French saw more clearly than most how globalisation (which they associated with the Americanisation or McDonaldisation of the universe) posed a threat to their cultural specificity. The fact that English became the lingua franca of commerce as well as the dominant language used in the ultimate globalising technology, the internet, made the French wary of what lay ahead for their language and culture. They spoke out vocifer- ously against the pervasive use of English and the uniform acceptance of unbridled capitalist ideology. They put measures in place to support things like French literature and cinema and asserted their cultural uniqueness whenever the opportunity arose. Their independent stance had broader ramifications when in 2003, on the eve of the outbreak of the war in Iraq, the then French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dominique de Villepin, strongly questioned the wisdom of waging war without just cause at the Security Council of the United Nations. This opposition...

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