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The Political Culture of Ireland Has Remained Stable Since the Foundation of the State

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Introduction

The Political Culture of Ireland Has Remained Stable Since the Foundation of the State COURSE: Public Administration MODULE: Government & Politics of Ireland "The concept of 'political culture' posits an important role for the attitudes and orientations that people hold towards authority. It describes a configuration of beliefs, values and symbols common to a nation, or to large groups within a nation that are directed towards political institutions."1 According to Campbell, Feigbaum, Linden and Norpoth, this concept is the sum and substance of political culture. This essay is concerned with how and why the political culture of Ireland has remained the stable since the foundation of the state. The context within which Irish political cultural values have been acquired will be outlined and analysed. As argued by Coakley, political cultural values do not exist in isolation but are influenced by the social background of those who hold them, thus I will examine the evolution of certain aspects of Irish society which helps to characterise Irelands political culture. Further, I will endeavour to illustrate the direction that Irish political culture has taken since the foundation of the state since 1922. Firstly, in order to get an understanding of what political culture means in this essay, I will elucidate political culture and define the theories and concepts underlying it. Lucien Pye, a theorist who identified political culture in the 1960s saw political culture as a means "to discover a method for working back from the complex subtleties of individual psychology to the level of the social aggregate which is the traditional plateau of political science"2. ...read more.

Middle

It is surprising at first glance to see democracy and authoritarianism to exist side by side, however when studied closely at the relationship of both them is evident that both are compatible. It has been argued that the coexistence of democracy and authoritarianism are perfect elements for the function of a perfect society. Loyalty has been perceived as another characteristic of Irish political culture. In traditional rural society loyalty has been a particular important quality. "In the nationalist movement, loyalty to the concept of the Irish nation became identified for most with faithfulness to one's religion and to the Church. The fierce partisanship evoked by the split over the treaty and the civil war that ushered in the new state put a further premium upon fidelity to one's leaders"13. This loyalty in Ireland wasn't really toward ideas but rather to persons and institutions. Finally the characteristic of anti-intellectualism must be addressed. The social and historical factors that led to authoritarian attitudes and also the notion of loyalty created anti-intellectualism in society. In political term, Chubb argues that after the emanation of the new state, a rural, nationalist and Catholic order didn't feel the necessity nor got fresh initiatives from its leaders. All of these characteristics explained above helped shape Ireland's political culture. The investigation of the political culture of Ireland must be examined under three topical headings: socio-economic culture, religious evolution and the British legacy. Firstly the notion of socio-economic activity must be explored. The transition of 'traditional' to 'modern' is an integral element to the evolution of political culture in Ireland. ...read more.

Conclusion

To a degree the factors assisted in the stability of the Irish political culture, however issues in society never remain static, and since the foundation of the state these underlying factors have evolved, although not in their entirety. Whilst the British influence still remains highly efficacious, there are other outside influences which have an effect on our political culture. The same can be said about the Catholic Church. The Church was extremely authoritarian when the state was first established, but their influence has weakened during the past few decades, evidence of this is seen in the way of divorce, contraception, and abortion issues. Also the pre-industrial society of Ireland is gone. Ireland is rapidly becoming an extremely diverse commercial and industrial country, bringing with it many new ways of life and beliefs, which unavoidably changes the shape and nature of the Irish political culture. Nationalism is still very much intact in Irish political culture, and in my opinion, think it will always be so. Loyalty, which was a part of the design in the scheme of Irish political culture, seems to be fading. In a country, which is progressively becoming more and more urban, the concept of loyalty doesn't possess the strength it once had on the political culture. Also the authoritarianism and anti-intellectualism is fading as a result of Ireland's development into an industrial country and a member of the European Union. In conclusion, it would be inaccurate to say that the political culture wasn't stable, however certain issues, both social and political, arose to change the shape of political culture in Ireland. Although the Irish political culture didn't go through a complete metamorphosis, change was inevitable and happened gradually resulting in the fact that cultural political has not remained completely stable since the foundation of the state. ...read more.

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