Rural Sentiment and the Irish Environmental Movement
The significance of rural life and thought in the development of an environmental consciousness in Ireland is considerable, yet rarely acknowledged. The division of Irish conservationalsim into either urban watchdogs of built heritage or rural communities resisting infrastructure has been complicated by the increased pressures faced by farmers due to the scientisation of that sector. The National Trust, An Taisce, has also faced difficulties in the debate about one off housing in scenic rural areas at a time when property values have become a key component of economic growth In attempting to define the sociology of the rural in 1992, Hilary Tovey surmises that Irish rural sociology has been understood as ‘sociology of farming’ (Tovey 1992a 97). This analysis equates rurality with an agricultural way of life, once deemed to have a primary significance by the state, but now under threat from political and socio-economic fixations with technologically derived modernisation. The traditional agricultural sector which spawned the ‘informed institutions of municipal support provided by the local community’ (ibid.) have given way to the systems of globalised capitalism as new forms of production have been introduced through scientific and technological innovations. As the process of market-led efficiency favoured larger producers in the new agri-business sector, small holdings and their traditionally rural way of life has been eroded over the last 50 years.
KeywordsRural Community Irish Society Democratic Deficit Irish Case Political Opportunity Structure
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