The limits of modernisation : religious and gender inequality in Northern Ireland
This work focuses on the role of state policy and multinational capital in the reproduction of social divisions in Northern Ireland. It concentrates on the period since 1972, when Direct Rule from Westminster replaced the Stormont regime. While the Unionist state has been abolished, sectarianism continues to dominate economic, political and social life. Although some reforms have been introduced, British policy has been unable to attack the roots of sectarianism. Multinational companies play no straight forward 'modernising' role in relation to sectarian (or gender) divisions. The evidence presented suggests that foreign capital has both undermined and reproduced existing social divisions. Sectarian practices have changed in response to political pressure, rather than any inherent tendency in capital itself. The political importance of the sectarian divide has overshadowed interest in gender inequalities. The two issues have remained separate in academic literature and in policy. This thesis has brought the two together, both theoretically and in the empirical work. It is argued that gender has been a crucial element in the construction of sectarian divisions, while sectarianism helps sustain patriarchal structures. Sectarianism has compounded gender disadvantage for Catholic women. The early chapters concern the theoretical framework, and the historical background to the period of Direct Rule. These are based largely on published sources, integrating material on both sectarian and gender inequalities. The later chapters review the evidence of the impact of British state policy on these inequalities. These are based mainly on official data; on published and unpublished material from the Fair Employment Commission's monitoring returns of individual companies and public authorities, and on a small number of interviews. These sources are supplemented with a small-scale study of employment at the Royal Victoria Hospital, based largely on interviews with staff and management.