Who Do We Think We Are? Immigration and the Discursive Construction of National Identity in an Irish Daily Mainstream Newspaper, 1996-2004

  • Conway B
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Abstract

This paper examines how Irish national identity has been constructed in recent press discourse against a background of demographic, social and economic change brought about by immigration. Using the Irish Times as our source of data, we analysed opinion and editorial pieces from 1996-2004. One would expect, given Ireland’s own emigration experience, its history of participation in imperial projects, and its treatment of indigenous minorities, that it would adopt an exclusive ethnic response to the presence of the migrant. We find, however, that two key cultural resources – the historical duty argument and the myth of Saint Patrick – are mobilised in press discourse to make sense of immigration and that these local narratives are employed to motivate inclusive political and social action in response to this global phenomenon. This counterintuitive finding is explained in terms of a global cultural argument that emphasizes the critical influence of international image in shaping how national societies construct their collective identity.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Immigration
  • Ireland
  • globalisation
  • narrative
  • national identity
  • print media
  • symbolic capital

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Authors

  • B Conway

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