MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library



    The agricultural labourer and the state in Independent Ireland, 1922-76


    Curtis, Caitriona Lisa (2007) The agricultural labourer and the state in Independent Ireland, 1922-76. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    Since the land act of 1881 initiated the process of vesting Ireland’s greatest natural resource in a single class, the legacy of peasant proprietorship for Irish social and economic development has been the subject of much debate and comment. Few, however, have considered its implications for the other group indigenous to the land, the agricultural labourers. Largely synonymous with decline, this thesis challenges the tendency to write this class off as a sector o f note by establishing them not only as Ireland’s largest single wage earning group until the 1960s but also its poorest and most disadvantaged. At a time when states began to actively intervene in society to protect the interests of their weaker members, this thesis explores Irish state policy towards the agricultural labourer. It examines how the state balanced the needs and interests of this disadvantaged group with those of the remainder of the farming community when agriculture was considered the country’s primary industry and the family farm the cornerstone of a self sufficient rural Ireland. Framed around the activities of the Agricultural Wages Board, a statutory minimum wage fixing body which operated from 1936 until 1976, this study carries out a detailed analysis of its performance in regulating the economic position of the agricultural labourer over forty years. Comparisons are drawn with the wages and hours of work of other Irish workers and comparable workers in the UK and Northern Ireland. Viewing this wage fixing machinery and its governing legislation as a reflection of government policy towards this class, its effectiveness is established by drawing reference to similar measures provided for other workers in Ireland and the UK. The systematic exclusion of the agricultural labourer from the modem labour code introduced for other workers around this period is for the first time examined in this study, and how this institutional stigmatization impacted on the agricultural labourer’s struggle to overcome his low status in Irish society. This thesis is essentially about a mindset which marginalised the agricultural labourer in Irish society until at least the 1970s

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Agricultural labourer; Independent Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Philosophy
    Item ID: 5059
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2014 11:51
    URI:

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