24-25 April 2015

Moore Institute

National University of Ireland, Galway


‘Ireland is a peculiar society in the sense that it was a nineteenth century society up to about 1970 and then it almost bypassed the twentieth century’ (John McGahern). The period from the 1970s to the 1990s was one of considerable social, cultural, economic and political change. Old norms were challenged. New ideas, organisations, and cultural forms emerged. In their wake came uncertainty, disunity, but also liberation (of many different hues). The return of mass emigration, rising inequality, increased secularisation, and the radicalisation of opinion on Northern Ireland went hand in hand with the retrenchment of conservative values and increasingly bitter debates on moral and social issues. Yet those decades were also marked by renewal: new and rejuvenated social movements, a vibrant popular culture, and alternative forms of political expression – from identity politics and the mass participation of Self Aid, to the free market liberalism of the PDs.


This conference explores the Ireland that those years of turbulence created, and how we understand and describe that period of change. Who were its key actors and agents? How and where did new forms of social and political participation emerge? What impact did they have on traditional political, social, economic, and cultural orthodoxies in Ireland? What was the everyday experience of change?


We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers from scholars at any career stage. Possible topics include:

  • The role of institutions, including the Catholic Church and the EEC.
  • Social fragmentation, including secularisation and urbanisation.
  • Identity politics, including youth, gender, race, and ethnicity.
  • Labour and class.
  • Poverty and welfare.
  • The changing face of civil society, including social movements and NGOs.
  • Northern Ireland.
  • Economics and the rise of neo-liberalism.
  • Cultural and artistic change.


Brief proposals (c.250 words), along with a short biography, should be sent to by 12 December 2014. Papers that link Ireland to the broader international experience of change would be especially welcome. Panel proposals of up to three speakers on a particular theme will also be considered. The selected participants will be informed by 15 January 2015.


Conference organisers:

Sarah-Anne Buckley, Tomás Finn, & Kevin O’Sullivan

National University of Ireland, Galway

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