Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice Research Collection
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- PublicationAbortion and Reproduction in Ireland: Shame, Nation-building and the Affective Politics of Place(Sage, 2019-07-01)In 2018, Irish citizens voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution to allow for the introduction of a more liberal abortion law. In this article, I develop a retrospective reading of the stubborn persistence of the denial of reproductive rights to women in Ireland over the decades. I argue that the ban’s severity and longevity is rooted in deep-seated, affective attachments that formed part of processes of postcolonial nation-building and relied on shame and the construction of the Irish nation as a particular, gendered place. The article develops the notion of ‘gendered displacement’ to conceptualise abortion travel in the context of the history of women’s coercive confinement, and provides an affective, feminist reading of the interlinkages between place and nationhood. It also draws on three cases—the X, Y and Z cases—to illustrate the centrality of place and women’s occupation of space to the analysis of Ireland’s abortion ban, which should be read in the wider context of the legacy of what I term the ‘affective politics of place’.
646Scopus© Citations 15
- PublicationAcademic freedom and the commercialisation of the universities: a critical ethical analysis(Inter Research, 2015-10-01)
;This paper explores the cultural and organisational dimensions of academic life that lay the foundations for academic freedom. We briefly review the relationship between university autonomy and academic freedom, the relationship between ethics and freedom and the impact of increased commercialisation on scholarly independence, particularly how the increasing casualization of employment limits the freedom of academics to teach critically and publish freely. We examine the geopolitics of knowledge and how the hegemony of Western thinking frames dominant epistemologies and imposes constraints on academic freedom. We also explore the ways in which Cartesian rationalism underpins contemporary understanding of what constitutes valid knowledge, and how this can and does act as a constraint in what we come to know and study, not least in terms of values but also in terms of how caring (affective) relations impact research and teaching. Our paper highlights the silenced doxa in the organisation of the academy, including the impact of care-lessness on women and primary care givers in particular. We examine the social class biases in how higher education is organised, and how class exclusions are themselves constraints on being an academic or a student in a university. Finally, the paper illustrates the importance of distinguishing between the institutional autonomy of the university, the personal and professional freedoms of individual academics, and each of these from subject autonomy, namely the freedom of scholars to create and maintain new disciplinary fields, especially fields of scholarship that are critical and challenging of prevailing academic orthodoxies. 738Scopus© Citations 42
- PublicationAcademic freedom and the commercialisation of universities: a critical ethical analysis(Berghahn Journals, 2015-10-01)
;This paper explores the cultural and organisational dimensions of academic life that lay the foundations for academic freedom. We briefly review the relationship between university autonomy and academic freedom, the relationship between ethics and freedom and the impact of increased commercialisation on scholarly independence, particularly how the increasing casualization of employment limits the freedom of academics to teach critically and publish freely. We examine the geopolitics of knowledge and how the hegemony of Western thinking frames dominant epistemologies and imposes constraints on academic freedom. We also explore the ways in which Cartesian rationalism underpins contemporary understanding of what constitutes valid knowledge, and how this can and does act as a constraint in what we come to know and study, not least in terms of values but also in terms of how caring (affective) relations impact research and teaching. Our paper highlights the silenced doxa in the organisation of the academy, including the impact of care-lessness on women and primary care givers in particular. We examine the social class biases in how higher education is organised, and how class exclusions are themselves constraints on being an academic or a student in a university. Finally, the paper illustrates the importance of distinguishing between the institutional autonomy of the university, the personal and professional freedoms of individual academics, and each of these from subject autonomy, namely the freedom of scholars to create and maintain new disciplinary fields, especially fields of scholarship that are critical and challenging of prevailing academic orthodoxies. 767Scopus© Citations 42
- PublicationActive survival in the lives of unaccompanied minors: coping strategies, resilience, and the relevance of religion(Blackwell Publishing, 2010-01)
;Asylum-seeking unaccompanied minors contend with numerous challenges as they adjust to living in a new country. Although increasing attention has been paid to their capacity for resilience, little research has been done on the exact manner in which they cope. This paper describes some of the insights gleaned from a qualitative study undertaken with unaccompanied minors living in Ireland. Six different coping strategies are identified, namely: (1) Maintaining continuity in a changed context, (2) Adjusting by learning and changing, (3) Adopting a positive outlook, (4) Suppressing emotions and seeking distraction, (5) Acting independently, and (6) Distrusting. These are described in turn. Particular attention is paid to the role of religion in relation to the participants' coping strategies. 3575Scopus© Citations 114
- PublicationAdoption and the Irish Care System: Context and Drivers for Change?(Round Hall, 2015-09)
;Long-term foster care ("LTFC") is the predominant permanent option for children who are likely to remain in care in Ireland. The Adoption Bill 2012 (the "2012 Bill"), published at the time of the holding of the Children's Referendum but not progressed since, seeks to ease existing legal restrictions in respect of adoption of children living in foster care. Against a backdrop of overall adoption trends in Ireland, this paper explores the 2012 Bill. It unpacks the concept of "permanency", discusses the incentives and disincentives involved in moving between foster care and adoption, and identifies key questions needed to shape the debate. How the passing of the Children's Referendum and its revision of the Constitution play out in the Irish legislature and court system remain to be determined. 110
- PublicationAdoption as Part of the Irish Care System: A New Challenge for Social Work(Irish Association of Social Workers, 2016-03-01)
;Placing adoption as an adjunct to the care system will have many implications for current service delivery and especially for social work practice. Not only is it likely to change the nature of care planning, foster and adoptive parent assessment and social work involvement in judicial processes, but it also has implications for the profession’s relationship with adoption. This seismic shift requires keen deliberation at a policy and practice level if best outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children in Irish society are to be realized. The debate needs to include those individuals affected by and responsible for legislative change, policy formation and best practice and its implementation (O’Brien and Palmer, 2015). This paper sets out to explore a number of the issues involved. 264
- PublicationAffective and calculative solidarity: the impact of individualism and neoliberal capitalism(Sage, 2018-07-25)
;This article examines the ways in which the self-responsibilized individualism underpinning contemporary concepts of the ideal European citizen, on the one hand (Frericks, 2014), and the inequalities and anti-democratic politics that characterize contemporary neoliberal capitalism, on the other, are co-constituent elements in creating an antipathy to forms of solidarity that are affective as opposed to calculative. The active citizenship framework lacks a full appreciation of the interdependency of the human condition and is antithetical to universalistic, affectively-led forms of solidarity. The deep relationality that is endemic to both social production and reproduction, and that impels an affective, morally-led form of solidarity needs to be recognized academically and intellectually, and politically sustained, if we are to move beyond a narrow, calculative, self-interested vision of solidarity in Europe. 1093Scopus© Citations 20
- PublicationAffective equality : who cares?(Palgrave McMillan, 2009-09)Human beings are not just economic actors, devoid of relationality; rather, they are interdependent and dependent with a deep capacity for moral feeling and attaching. The presumption that people are mere units of labour, movable from one country to another as production requires, is therefore an institutionalised form of affective injustice. As love, care and solidarity involve work, affective inequalities also occur when the burdens and benefits of these forms of work are unequally distributed. Affective inequality is an acutely gendered problem given the moral imperative on women to care, and an acute problem for all of humanity given that vulnerability and inter/dependency is endemic to the human condition.
1273Scopus© Citations 19
- PublicationAffective Equality: Love Matters(Wiley, 2017-10)
;The nurturing that produces love, care, and solidarity constitutes a discrete social system of affective relations. Affective relations are not social derivatives, subordinate to economic, political, or cultural relations in matters of social justice. Rather, they are productive, materialist human relations that constitute people mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially. As love laboring is highly gendered, and is a form of work that is both inalienable and noncommodifiable, affective relations are therefore sites of political import for social justice. We argue that it is impossible to have gender justice without relational justice in loving and caring. Moreover, if love is to thrive as a valued social practice, public policies need to be directed by norms of love, care, and solidarity rather than norms of capital accumulation. To promote equality in the affective domains of loving and caring, we argue for a four-dimensional rather than a three-dimensional model of social justice as proposed by Nancy Fraser (2008). Such a model would align relational justice, especially in love laboring, with the equalization of resources, respect, and representation. 515Scopus© Citations 30
- PublicationThe age of precarity and the new challenges to the academic profession(Babes Bolyai, 2015-04)Neoliberalism has had destructive effects on the academic profession. While full-time academic employment has always been a privilege for a few, the academic precariat has risen as a reserve army of workers with ever shorter, lower paid, hyper-flexible contracts and ever more temporally fragmented and geographically displaced hyper-mobile lives. Under the pressure to ¿publish or perish¿ a growing stratification between research and teaching has emerged. It has made academic work more susceptible to market pressures, and less - to public accountability. Focusing on a recent call for 'casual researchers' issued by Oxford University the paper indicates how the growing competition for scarcer resources has made academics finally aware of the inequalities engendered by neoliberal capitalism, but still incapable to mobilize.
- PublicationAligning Participation and Protection in the Women Peace and Security Agenda(Cambridge University Press, 2023-04-01)
;This article presents the first feminist doctrinal textual analysis of cross-pillar synergies within thematic resolutions of the UN Security Council. Specifically, it examines the pillars of ‘participation’ and ‘protection’ under the women, peace and security agenda (WPS). In attempts to balance agency with victimhood, normative advancement of both pillars has until recently evolved along parallel tracks, with little acknowledgment of how protection relates to women’s participation. The paper identifies synergies, gaps and productive tensions as the WPS agenda begins to engage with the inter-relationship between the pillars. It outlines critical implications and considerations for any future moves towards cross-pillar congruence. 17
- PublicationAll things considered, should feminists embrace basic income?(2011)
;As a feminist, I am committed to equality of condition between men and women, defined multidimensionally in terms of respect and recognition; resources; love, care and solidarity; power; and working and learning. I concentrate in this comment on equality in the affective system, i.e., the set of social relations that operates to meet people's needs for love, care and solidarity. A central problem for egalitarians is that recognising, valuing and supporting care work risks reinforcing the gendered division of labour, a problem of much wider remit than the issue of basic income. I argue, however, that basic income can be construed as recognising and supporting care work as a form of worthwhile but noncommodifiable activity and that this should be combined with confronting the division of labour culturally and ideologically. I cite recent empirical work on caregivers and care recipients in Ireland in support of my position. 683
- PublicationAll things considered, should feminists embrace basic income?(Berkeley Electronic Press, 2008)As a feminist, I am committed to equality of condition between men and women, defined multidimensionally in terms of respect and recognition; resources; love, care and solidarity; power; and working and learning. I concentrate in this comment on equality in the affective system, i.e., the set of social relations that operates to meet people's needs for love, care and solidarity. A central problem for egalitarians is that recognising, valuing and supporting care work risks reinforcing the gendered division of labour, a problem of much wider remit than the issue of basic income. I argue, however, that basic income can be construed as recognising and supporting care work as a form of worthwhile but noncommodifiable activity and that this should be combined with confronting the division of labour culturally and ideologically. I cite recent empirical work on caregivers and care recipients in Ireland in support of my position.
- PublicationAn Application of the Fifth Province to Kinship Care Networks(Human Systems, 2014)Kinship care represents a significant option for increasing numbers of children in need of state care (Nixon 2007; Colton et al 2008). There are many positive outcomes from such placements (Hunt et al 2008, O’Brien 2012a). While there have been some interesting systemic developments (Crumbley & Little 1997; Portengen & DerNeut 1999, Ziminski 2007a, 2007b), a level of confusion remains as to the nature of the relationships involved in kinship networks. Furthermore, a service delivery model, characterised by the professionals holding much of the power, expertise and regulatory responsibility has dominated (O’Brien 2012b). This has led to disquiet among many practitioners, family members and managers. This paper contends that an understanding of the different networks is a critical starting point to aiding development. Building on earlier work (O’Brien 1997, 1999), the 'fifth province model' from the systemic field, is shown to provide a conceptual and intervention framework to aid this development. The model provides a means to understand various networks that can evolve. This analysis is achieved through an application of 'diamonds', which are a hallmark of the fifth province. Discussion of the author’s journey towards understanding of the fifth province model is central to this appraisal of its application in kinship care.
- PublicationAppointing senior managers in education : homosociability, local logics and authenticity in the selection process(Sage, 2009-05)
; ;While there is extensive research on educational leadership and management, the selection of leaders has received comparatively little attention. This article examines how educational leadership is constructed through the selection process in the context of a qualitative study of Irish education. It highlights the tensions that can exist for selection board assessors as they try to balance increasing performativity and new managerialist demands with the traditional ethical and moral dimensions of educational leadership. Key concepts of ‘local logics’ and ‘homosociability’ frame the analysis as it is shown how assessors often select ‘safe’ candidates according to familiar qualities. This normalisation is problematic when educational leadership is faced with intense organisational and socio-cultural change. It is also problematic in gender terms, especially in higher education, where the prevailing leadership model is a masculine one. Differences between sectors are evident, with the primary and second level sectors translating criteria to the local logics of the institution and emphasising the personal qualities of candidates. The higher education sectors were more formalised in their application process, highlighting their own ‘local logics’ of strategic and professional management criteria. 2609Scopus© Citations 59
- PublicationAre married women more deprived than their husbands?(Cambridge University Press, 1998-04)
;Conventional methods of analysis of poverty assume resources are shared so that each individual in a household/family has the same standard of living. This article measures differences between spouses in a large sample in indicators of deprivation of the type used in recent studies of poverty at household level. The quite limited overall imbalance in measured deprivation in favour of husbands suggests that applying such indicators to individuals will not reveal a substantial reservoir of hidden poverty among wives in non-poor households, nor much greater deprivation among women than men in poor households. This points to the need to develop more sensitive indicators of deprivation designed to measure individual living standards and poverty status, which can fit within the framework of traditional poverty research using large samples. It also highlights the need for clarification of the underlying poverty concept. 520Scopus© Citations 28
- PublicationAsset Price Keynesianism, Regional Imbalances and the Irish and Spanish Housing Booms and Busts(Alexandrine Press, 2015-07)
;Ireland and Spain were amongst the European countries which experienced the most severe economic and fiscal problems following the global financial crisis. The proximate causes of these economic crashes have been explored in-depth by researchers and governments, who have highlighted strong parallels between the policy, regulatory and economic factors which underpinned them. In both countries residential property price inflation increased dramatically from the late 1990s driven by increased availability of cheap mortgages but unusually was accompanied by marked growth in new house building. Thus, following the international credit crunch in 2008, a simultaneous contraction in both mortgage credit and house building occurred in Ireland and Spain, which precipitated a marked knock-on decline in the employment, tax revenue and consumer spending which the housing boom had underpinned. This article argues that the Irish and Spanish housing booms and busts are similar not just in terms of scale and proximate causes but also in terms of fundamental causes. In both countries the housing boom/bust cycle was underpinned by a suite of macroeconomic policies which aimed to use asset price growth to underpin rising demand and economic growth, or in other words achieve what Robert Brenner (2006) terms ‘asset-price Keynesianism’. This approach was particularly attractive to the Irish and Spanish governments because it enabled them to resolve historical legacies of industrial underdevelopment and regional imbalances by generating construction jobs in underdeveloped areas. As a result of the latter, local/regional governments in both countries played a key role in facilitating the implementation of this policy. 238Scopus© Citations 19
- PublicationThe attitudes and awareness of London based emergency department physicians towards the management of common dentofacial emergencies(Wiley, 2012-04)
; ; ;Background Dentofacial emergencies which are a common presentation to the emergency department (ED) and there is little data on how they are managed by non-dentally trained clinicians in the ED. Aims: To investigate the attitudes and awareness of ED physicians towards four common aspects of dentofacial emergencies and to explore potential barriers ED physicians may face in treating these emergencies. Methods A questionnaire survey involving 103 ED physicians largely from around the London region was employed. Results: The cohort included ED consultants (n=33), ED registrars (n=33) and ED juniors (n=37). 76.5% reported as not having any formal training in managing these emergencies. The study found that the percentage of participants who were confident in managing dental trauma was 20.4%, major facial trauma (40.6%), interpreting facial x-rays (69.3%) and facial suturing (86.3%). A subgroup of the cohort (n=58) were questioned on who they felt should manage maxillofacial and dental emergencies. 51.7% felt that dentists should manage dental emergencies and 67.2% thought that maxillofacial surgeons should manage maxillofacial emergencies in the ED. Only 12.1% and 22.4% felt that ED doctors should treat dental emergencies and maxillofacial emergencies respectively. When asked who they would like to be treated by in the event they presented to the ED with a traumatic dental injury (n=102) only 3.9% favoured ED as treating speciality compared to 23.5% treatment by a dentist and 72.5% by a maxillofacial surgeon. None of the participants opted treatment by an ENP. Discussion: Although based on a limited study sample the data suggests that ED doctors do not feel confident in managing some dentofacial emergencies. This may be attributed to a lack of training in this area as well as exposure to these types of emergencies. Furthermore the confidence level reported may not reflect actual competence and there is a need for greater awareness, validated guidelines and training resources for ED clinicians to treat dentofacial emergencies as well more research in this field of emergency medicine. 475Scopus© Citations 51
- PublicationThe Bolivarian University of Venezuela: A radical alternative in the global field of higher education?(Berghahn Journals, 2013)This article discusses paradoxes in the emergent global field of higher education as refl ected in an alternative model of the university – the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) and the related higher education policy, Misión Sucre. With its credo in the applied social sciences, its commitment to popular pedagogy and its dependence on extensive fieldwork with communities, UBV offers an alternative model of science and research at the service of society. Drawing on my ongoing research on this university (since 2008), I present the difficulties which the homogenising standards of a global field of higher education pose to a rapidly developing mass public university in a semi-peripheral country. I focus on the difficulty of developing evaluation procedures for UBV as this exposes contradictions which are both unique to this new university model and common for a world system of higher education.
- PublicationBook Review: Making Markets in the Welfare State: The Politics of Varying Market Reforms by Jane Gingrich, Cambridge University Press(Sage Publications, 2012-09-19)Social policy scholars are very good in comparing welfare states, but little is known about the markets within these welfare states. Jane Gingrich addresses this vast research gap in her new book by comparing the welfare market creation in three countries (England, Sweden, the Netherlands) and three social services (primary health care, schools, long term care) since the 1980s.