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Description - Political Economy and Colonial Ireland by Thomas Boylan

Through the first half of the nineteenth century there was a widespread notion that political economy was little known and not highly thought of in Ireland, and that the Irish and Roman Catholic character' was either non-economic' or anti-economic'. Such economic ignorance came to be seen as a major cause of Irish backwardness and of social divisions. The educational system was identified as the chief non-coercive means of establishing hegemony over the Irish, with political economy playing a leading role in promoting the economically progressive virtues (seen as English and rational) of self-interest and individualism, the socially desirable objective of neutralising class antagonisms, and, above all, the political objective of tranquillising' Ireland and assimilating it to English norms, the better to promote the integrity of Empire. In a country so spectacularly divided as Ireland, ideological consensus was sought in that allegedly value-free and incontrovertible form of knowledge, political economy. But this book argues that political economy was partisan and defended the social, political and ideological status quo. The Great Famine of 1846-47 provoked an Irish outcry against political economy, and especially its constant companion laissez-faire . The validity and universality of its laws were impunged and it was subjected unrelenting moral and political attacks. Although the establishment strenously defended it, within ten years a moral critique of the discipline had seriously questioned its scientific status. Its basic tenets, such as individualism and self-interest, were challenged in the name of social and co-operative values and the family rather than the individual was seen as the basic unit of society. A political economy based on English experience and ideas was rejected and the notion was embraced that Ireland should be governed by Irish ideas'. This is the first history of the academic and non-academic propogation of the discipline in Ireland. It deals with the foundation and careers of university chairs, the role of the Statistical Society and the Barrington Trust, and the teaching of the subject to children in the national schools. In all of these areas the central role of Archbishop Richard Whatley is emphasised.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415066280
ISBN-10: 041506628X
Format: Hardback
(216mm x 138mm x mm)
Pages: 222
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 9-Jan-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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