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    The Politics of Pensions in Ireland

    Maher, Michelle (2016) The Politics of Pensions in Ireland. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Where power lies in the politics of pensions in Ireland is the central research question guiding this research. Working within a power orientated theoretical framework that links actors and ideas with an institutional analysis, an evaluation of half a century of pension policy is conducted. The hypothesis locates a knowledge elite within the institutional structures of pension policy-making, giving them privileged influence over policy. Analysis of data from process tracing and elite interviews supports the hypothesis, establishing that a network of professionals formed a pensions epistemic community. The research is presented as a narrative of the community gaining power in the 1970s, and consolidating it over the remainder of the century. They successfully countered a policy trajectory of a stronger role for the state within the pension system with their own policy enterprise, constructed around the idea of the pension system as a partnership. The state’s function within the partnership was to provide a basic pension, rather than involve itself in income-related pensions that could better be provided privately. Through the exercise of power, and manipulating the path dependent tendency of pension systems they normalised their policy enterprise as the only logical and viable reform trajectory, so that policy-making was only thought possible within its confines. In an extension to the epistemic community concept, the thesis separates the policy enterprise from the epistemic community and accords it structural weight in its own right, allowing the concept to account for a phase of declining epistemic power. The findings from this research matter for the pension debate in Ireland, as they draw out the lack of gender as an analytical category in pension reform. By understanding how the confines of what is considered possible in pension policy are constructed, this thesis can unlock conventional thinking on reform. In doing so, it challenges policy-makers to think innovatively about the Irish pension system, to place Ireland on a path of sustainable adequate and equitable pension provision for future generations.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Politics; Pensions; Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 8781
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2017 10:31
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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