Land Matters: Power Struggles in Rural Ireland
By: Ethel Crowley
‘In this brave and significant book, Ethel Crowley investigates the social and psychological changes in rural Ireland since accession to the EEC … She brings a sociological scalpel to policies, structures and directives in a way that lays them open to the light: for sheer readable information and reference, Land Matters is invaluable.’ – from the foreword by Michael Viney
‘A landmark study … We could hardly ask for a better introduction to contemporary rural Ireland, with its subtleties and contradictions.’ – Chris Eipper, LaTrobe University, Australia
‘By wrapping her personal knowledge of the countryside in a rigorous sociological framework, Ethel Crowley has produced a highly accessible work that deserves a place on every college reading list, every organization’s library and every townie’s bookshelf.’ – Kathy Sheridan
The Land Question has always been predominant in Ireland. According to forecasts, there will be as few as 15,000 farmers in twenty years’ time. As the Irish rural image undergoes radical transformation, this timely, informative, vigorously argued book will be necessary reading for those working in rural development, food production, housing, transport, heritage and conservation, to say nothing of those who simply care about Ireland’s future. Land Matters concerns social and ecological change, the underlying results of structural and policy decisions made in Brussels or Dublin and their impact on the ground.
It addresses the following themes: globalization and the forces that shape society; the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), and why it has been reformed; social inequality; REPS (the Rural Environment Protection Scheme) and its impact; survival strategies in everyday life (farm households and diversification); green capitalism; landscape, heritage and the ‘politics of perception’; nitrate pollution; migration; contrasting rural visions (housing in the country, ‘clean’ food); and views of a region – west Cork – in which competing claims are made by farmers, hoteliers, conservationists and second-home owners.
Key organizations such as Teagasc, the IFA, An Taisce and Organic Trust are also examined and profiled. Land matters permeate all our lives, from our supermarket shelves to our television screens and studies, from our boardrooms to our streets, dwellings, communities and belief systems. No one will be untouched by the issues raised in this pioneering, analytic work.
ETHEL CROWLEY is a lecturer in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin and comes from a farming background in Co. Cork.