Opportunities for All in the New Ireland?
The past decade of economic growth has vastly changed the employment opportunities available to Irish workers. As the next chapter of this volume will show, Ireland has more and better jobs available than ever before, yet it is still not difficult to find both media and academic discussion which argues that this growth masks a persistent and deepening problem of marginalisation and blocked mobility. Writers such as Kirby (2002, 2006) and O’Hearn (1998, 2000) argue that not only has employment growth been largely in unskilled and dead-end jobs, but they also suggest that some groups are finding it increasingly difficult to get into good occupational positions. This argument moves well beyond the notion that inequalities in income or conditions are increasing. Instead it argues that less advantaged groups are increasingly marginalised and they and their children are unable to break into the more advantaged occupations. If true, such a situation would run counter to most people’s concept of equity. Few would argue that equality of conditions irrespective of individual effort is appealing — let alone attainable — and most would agree that Irish society should strive to foster equality of opportunity and would be unhappy if opportunities to rise on one’s own merits were becoming increasingly rare. Such inequality would also be a serious problem for Irish society since it would entail a mammoth waste of human talent and possibility.
KeywordsSocial Class Employment Growth Managerial Class Class Origin Irish Society
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