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Rule-breakers – Why ‘Being There’ Trumps ‘Being Fair’ in Ireland: Uncovering Ireland’s National Psyche

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Ireland is a nation on a value system that equates ‘being good’ with ‘being there for each other’. As a society we favour ‘minding our own’ over ‘doing what we’re told’. So far, so Irish. It’s become a commonplace to refer to the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years as an aberration, the product of a short-lived and inexplicable mania for cheap credit and unregulated consumpt Ireland is a nation on a value system that equates ‘being good’ with ‘being there for each other’. As a society we favour ‘minding our own’ over ‘doing what we’re told’. So far, so Irish. It’s become a commonplace to refer to the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years as an aberration, the product of a short-lived and inexplicable mania for cheap credit and unregulated consumption. But what if the roots of Ireland’s economic crisis ran far deeper than the property boom or the hubris of the establishment elites who enabled it? In this, a ground-breaking survey of the Irish national character from its colonial history to its current day dramas, acclaimed sociologist Niamh Hourigan draws on a wealth of new and compelling research to reveal the fundamental conflict at the heart of the Irish society: that between our traditional faith in the politics of intimacy, all handshakes and favours, and the ruling systems in which we’ve invested power. The Ireland that emerges from her research is a country where outcomes are decided by who rather than what you know, and where – for good or for bad – rules are very much made to be broken. ‘Probing, perceptive and highly readable exploration of the Irish value system’ J. J. Lee, New York University ‘Compulsively readable’ Kathy Sheridan, The Irish Times ‘Lucid, engaging and persuasive … every politician should read this – and so should every voter’ Colin Murphy, The Guarantee


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Ireland is a nation on a value system that equates ‘being good’ with ‘being there for each other’. As a society we favour ‘minding our own’ over ‘doing what we’re told’. So far, so Irish. It’s become a commonplace to refer to the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years as an aberration, the product of a short-lived and inexplicable mania for cheap credit and unregulated consumpt Ireland is a nation on a value system that equates ‘being good’ with ‘being there for each other’. As a society we favour ‘minding our own’ over ‘doing what we’re told’. So far, so Irish. It’s become a commonplace to refer to the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years as an aberration, the product of a short-lived and inexplicable mania for cheap credit and unregulated consumption. But what if the roots of Ireland’s economic crisis ran far deeper than the property boom or the hubris of the establishment elites who enabled it? In this, a ground-breaking survey of the Irish national character from its colonial history to its current day dramas, acclaimed sociologist Niamh Hourigan draws on a wealth of new and compelling research to reveal the fundamental conflict at the heart of the Irish society: that between our traditional faith in the politics of intimacy, all handshakes and favours, and the ruling systems in which we’ve invested power. The Ireland that emerges from her research is a country where outcomes are decided by who rather than what you know, and where – for good or for bad – rules are very much made to be broken. ‘Probing, perceptive and highly readable exploration of the Irish value system’ J. J. Lee, New York University ‘Compulsively readable’ Kathy Sheridan, The Irish Times ‘Lucid, engaging and persuasive … every politician should read this – and so should every voter’ Colin Murphy, The Guarantee

16 review for Rule-breakers – Why ‘Being There’ Trumps ‘Being Fair’ in Ireland: Uncovering Ireland’s National Psyche

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Harte

    If you ever wondered why the Irish constantly criticise the cronyism and patronage that ruined the country while at the same time actively participating in the same behaviour on a personal level. This book goes some way to explain this contradiction. I'm not sure I agree with everything in the book but it does offer some explanations and is a reasonably good effort at trying to decipher this national contradiction in the Irish psyche. If you ever wondered why the Irish constantly criticise the cronyism and patronage that ruined the country while at the same time actively participating in the same behaviour on a personal level. This book goes some way to explain this contradiction. I'm not sure I agree with everything in the book but it does offer some explanations and is a reasonably good effort at trying to decipher this national contradiction in the Irish psyche.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Gaffney

  4. 5 out of 5

    artu

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mrs A M Wadsworth

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Keene

    Fascinating! I am someone who didn't grow up in Ireland but who was here for the peak of the boom, was effected significantly by the bust and is here still. Some really interesting ideas, very recognisable scenarios and a lot of insights into the value systems here in relation to rules and relationships in society. The writing is a bit laboured in places but overall, recommended for anyone wanting to think through how Ireland today might need to address the culture that led to the events of rece Fascinating! I am someone who didn't grow up in Ireland but who was here for the peak of the boom, was effected significantly by the bust and is here still. Some really interesting ideas, very recognisable scenarios and a lot of insights into the value systems here in relation to rules and relationships in society. The writing is a bit laboured in places but overall, recommended for anyone wanting to think through how Ireland today might need to address the culture that led to the events of recent years within the Irish context.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cormac Hayes

  10. 4 out of 5

    chris nolan

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Russell

  13. 4 out of 5

    James

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben Graham

  15. 4 out of 5

    Walthea

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean McGrath

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