Dublin Politics: symbolic dimensions of clientelism

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Title: Dublin Politics: symbolic dimensions of clientelism
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/10258
Date: 1989
Online since: 2019-05-01T11:40:31Z
Abstract: Irish politics has often been characterized, in both academic analysis and popular discourse, as clientelist. clientelism, as a means by which people gain access to scarce and valued resources, as been a useful means of understanding some aspects of Irish politics. The term has also been used, especially in Ireland, to signify the corrupt abuse of power by using public resources for personal electoral gain. In this view, people go through 'friends of friends' to obtain, informally, what they would not obtain via the formal system. So strongly held is the folk belief in clientelism that most successes, even if evidence is lacking, are seen as the result of 'strings being pulled', or 'special connections'. This view of political life is rarely challenged; it can be considered a basic premise, or world-view, of Irish politics. It is this strong belief in clientelism that will be explored: how is it created and maintained? In order to explore the imagery and symbolism of clientelism, this paper will describe political interactions among voters, political activists, polticians, and public officials in Dublin. The goal of such decriptions will be to demonstrate how politicians use the various resources at their disposal to maintain a belief system that suits their purposes. The premise of this paper will be that, whatever historical reasons (cultural, economic, and political) may explain the development of clientelist beliefs, these beliefs must also be supported and maintained through daily interaction. Politicians must make themselves mediators between voters and the state, and encourage a belief in their efficacy and the relative powerlessness of voters as actors on their own or as a collective group. Community and political life in various parts of Dublin will be explored to demonstrate this process; special emphasises will be placed on politicians' clinics, party meetings, resident's groups, and meetings between voters and politicians in Dail Eireann as well as local Councils. Such descriptions will illustrate how politicians use their own personal abilities, the resources provided by their position, and the shared ideology of Irish culture to reinforce clientelist beliefs, regardless of the accuracy of such beliefs.
Type of material: Book Chapter
Publisher: Galway University Press
Start page: 240
End page: 259
Keywords: DublinIrishIrelandPoliticsPolitical clientelismBrokerBrokerageClientelistUrban
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Is part of: Curtin, C., Wilson, T. M. (eds.). Ireland from Below: Social Change and Local Communities
ISBN: 0907775217
Appears in Collections:Information and Communication Studies Research Collection

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