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Ethnicity and individuality: Irish migrants in London, 1980s-1990s.

Kells, Mary Eileen (2000) Ethnicity and individuality: Irish migrants in London, 1980s-1990s. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis attends to the question of identity, specifically ethnic identity, as it related to around 50 young, professional "Irish" migrants in London. My informants were male and female, Protestant and Catholic and had emigrated during the 1980s and 1990s, from the North and Republic of Ireland. I consider how these individuals constructed and represented their ethnic identities; how they enacted them, through choice of Irish or non-Irish companions, for example; and how, in more general terms, "Irishness" was imagined. I suggest that migration represented a "fateful moment" in my informants' journeys of self-discovery. Post-migration, they were able to re-evaluate their ethnic identities, away from the constraints of Ireland and the pressure of communal expectations which they had experienced there. This led to a selective identification with those aspects of their ethnic identities which they found they valued, as well as a rejection of those elements which may have helped prompt migration. Thus, in London, the content of their ethnic identities changed somewhat, as did their strategic, emotional significances. I begin with a literature survey and overview of the subjects of ethnicity, identity and migration in Chapter 1, turning to urban research methodology in Chapter 2. My chapters then present my informants' journeys in the order of their unfolding, beginning in Chapter 3 with life in Ireland, as it was recalled in London; initial experiences in London (Chapter 4); and the establishment of social networks (Chapter 5). In Chapter 6, I present case studies of three Irish organisations and Chapter 7 focuses on representations of "Irishness", constructed after my informants have had some time in London to reflect on these. In Chapter 8 I begin by considering the topic of integration, then assess the appropriateness of "ethnicity" as an analytic tool to describe my informants' choices and self-understanding. I also investigate the overall meaning and relevance of ethnicity. I focus on religion and politics, two potent areas in the construction of "Irishness", in Chapters 9 and 10, before presenting my conclusions in Chapter 11.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2271

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