The settlement of modernity : a study of the relationship between national polices and local culture and the significance of technology in the transition from community to society on Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay, County Cork, Eire
This thesis is based on an ethnographic study of the inhabitants of Whiddy Island, and focuses on the change from one form of societal organisation to another on this island. The thesis is not an ethnography proper, but an attempt to link the local perceptions of change and the changes in the islanders' daily lives, to the wider political economy. Throughout the course of the study my original intention of exploring the tension between technology and community was replaced with the wider hypothesis that there is tension between modernity and community. Technology was revealed as both a product and producer of modernity, and modern state capitalist societies as the antonym not the synonym of community. The 40 remaining islanders represent the last of the transient phase in which community disappears and is replaced by society. The changes in the daily lives of the islanders were not total nor revolutionary. Rather the products of modernity - both policies and artefacts, were absorbed into the islanders' daily lives, and once absorbed the products of modernity promoted modernity in the daily lives of those using them. Modernity is thus a circular process, yet it settled on the island in layers. Each layer produced a new set of paradoxes and reformed the old practices and the old ideology to fit the new setting. The settlement of modernity culminated in the replacement of community members with state citizens. By focusing on the interrelationship and dialogue between modernity, the state and the citizen the processes by which modernity settled on this small island are revealed. It settled both as a result of the direct intervention of state policies on education, emigration and employment, and as a result of local decisions to embrace mechanised transport, domestic technologies and the mass media. By accepting the policies and the artefacts of modernity, the islanders were prohibited from resisting their transformation from community members to state citizens. The island citizen, like all citizens to-day, has a direct dialogue with, and relationship to modernity, and an indirect one mediated by the state.