Patterns of Social Relationships and Their Outcomes: The Case of Ireland.

This study investigates patterns of relationships in Ireland, focusing on the impact of such relationships within Irish society. This paper contends that the social climate in modern and present-day Ireland may be traced to the historical context. Thus, patterns of relationships appear in various periods, and the current relational patterns result from historical events and the social structure of pre-modern Ireland. More specifically, hegemonic relations have been present throughout history. As a result, the Irish have endured unequal treatment, as they have been viewed as inferior, and forced to suffer due to poor economic and social conditions. (1) Further, issues of inequality, dominance, and conflict have been evident in Ireland for centuries.

The present study examines four time periods: a) the historical context, part one, to Cromwell, b) the historical context, part two through the Battle of the Boyne, c) the Battle of the Diamond and the formation of the Orange Order through 1920, and d) modern and contemporary Ireland. Although these periods may seem arbitrary, they represent distinct yet interrelated historical eras. Thus, the historical contexts provide a detailed description of pre-modern Ireland through the Battle of the Boyne. Further, because these periods span multiple centuries and provide the foundation for our conclusions, the presentation of the findings for this period is the most extended and in-depth. Period three begins with the Battle of the Diamond and the formation of the Orange Order and ends with the transition to establish the Irish Republic. Period four focuses on modern and contemporary Ireland to the present.

This study contributes to the sociological literature as it uses a social psychological perspective to investigate group behavior and the structural conditions present in Ireland. Hence, what are the social outcomes produced by inter-group relations in Ireland? To answer this question, this paper employs a theory focusing on patterns of relationships, providing a unique insight into the complexities of social structure and conflict. Moreover, analyzing four specific periods reveals how the patterns have in the past and continue to affect Irish society. Finally, this paper suggests that patterns of relationships, social structure, and various social practices produce certain outcomes for individuals, communities, and society.

Elementary Theory

This paper employs elementary theory to better understand the patterns of social relationships in Ireland. According to Willer, "at the core of Elementary Theory is a 'modeling procedure' that is used to build models for properties inside the actor, like preferences and beliefs, and for properties outside the actor, like social relations and social structures." (2) Further, "these are theoretic models for actors in relations in structures, and they begin with simple elements, 'sanctions' that are connected to generate preferences, beliefs, and relations. (3)

The theory focuses on social relations present in every society. (4) These relations include: a) coercion, b) conflict, and c) exchange. Regarding coercion, the actor possesses the ability to impose a sanction on another actor (known as the coercee). If the coercee does not respond positively, the coercer may threaten the coercee with a negative sanction. (5) Thus, the desired behavior eliminates the need to apply a negative sanction. The second relation involves conflict. While positive and negative responses are characteristic of conflict, the relation represents a different form as "in conflict, because the two transactions are negative, neither actor benefits when the sanction of the other is transmitted." (6) As a result, agreements arise when either party administers no sanctions. (7) However, "when an agreement is not attained [between actors], the relationship is in confrontation, and both actors transmit their negatives." (8) Exchange represents a mutually beneficial relationship. When both actors benefit in a particular situation, an exchange relationship may develop. Further, exchange also involves the development of an agreement between actors. (9)

This paper suggests that the historical context demonstrates evidence of social relationships (primarily coercion and conflict), and this context provides the foundation for analyzing social relations in modern and contemporary Ireland. Further, it contends that the social relations produce essential outcomes for society.

Methods and Analysis

This paper utilizes the historical/comparative method, theoretical analysis, and content analysis to analyze patterns of relationships and the outcomes of such relations. Historical/comparative analysis may be defined as "the examination of societies over time and in comparison with one another." (10) Overlapping somewhat with content analysis and other field methodologies, historical/comparative analysis involves the use of historical methods by sociologists. (11) Similarly, content analysis consists of the study of communication. As Adler and Clark suggest, content analysis is a "technique that is particularly useful for doing historical investigations." (12) Further, content analysis is a method of data collection in which some form of communication is studied and analyzed systematically. (13)

To conduct the historical/comparative study and theoretical analysis, both archival (primary sources) and secondary sources were used. Qualitative content analysis is employed to examine these documents, allowing us to identify themes in the documents related to coercion, conflict, and exchange. This methodology helps examine processes for the purpose of comparing this culture over time. Further, qualitative content analysis is designed for verbal analysis. (14) This methodology allows researchers to read and reread each document, paper, book, article, etc., to detect various themes related to our study while avoiding oversights.

Historical Context, Part One

The themes of coercion and conflict (coercion, in particular) are evident in the historical context. The struggle for power by the minority group and the successful maintenance of power and dominance by Britain provides numerous examples of a coercive relationship and the development and perpetuation of intergroup conflict. Conflictual social relations in Ireland are deeply rooted in her bitter history with England that dates back to the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. Ireland was in the midst of civil war and the King of Leinster, Diarmait MacMurchada, fled to England to ask for aid from Strongbow, the earl of Pembroke, in fending off other Irish kings. Strongbow agreed to assist, and not only did he return MacMurchada to the throne, but he paved the way for King Henry II in 1171 to establish his supremacy over Ireland and the Norman lords who had subsequently established themselves in the land and later formed the three great earldoms of Ormond, Desmond, and Kildare. (15) As historian Piers Brendon notes, Ireland became England's "first real colony" from this point forward, and although "invaded by Henry II," it was "subjugated by Henry VIII, 'settled' by Elizabeth, 'planted' by James I, ravaged by Cromwell and crushed by William of Orange." (16) The policies pursued by each of these monarchs in the Irish context resulted ultimately in what historians Newton Key and Robert Bucholz have called a "pattern for future tragedies" that include "religious friction, mistrust, misunderstanding, violence, rebellion, revenge, and English military occupation." (17)

In the three centuries between Henry II and Henry VIII, a "fragile but viable balance" existed between the English monarchy and her Irish colony primarily due to the ruling autonomy of the Old English in a "hybrid" society of both English and Gaelic ways. (18) Under the guidance of Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, this balance was ultimately destroyed as the English monarchy sought to subjugate its Irish colony and "anglicize" it. One of the main catalysts for a new Irish policy was the rebellion of the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, the predominant ruling Old English dynasty in Ireland, who were staunchly Catholic. The proximity of a Catholic Ireland to England was not lost on Henry as he instituted the Reformation and broke from Rome. In an attempt to prevent the Reformation in Ireland, Thomas Fitzgerald, Lord Offaly, son of the ninth earl of Kildare, rebelled against Henry, declaring

I am none of Henrie his Deputie; I am his fo. I have more mind to conquer than to governe--to meet him in the field than to serve him in office... and will choose rather to die with valiantnesse and libertie, than to live under King Henrie in bondage and villanie. (19)

He subsequently offered Ireland to Pope Paul III and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Henry was able to put down the rebellion, and he later executed the earl. (20) In 1536, an Act of Supremacy for Ireland was passed, which stated that "the King our Sovereign Lord... of this said land of Ireland, shall be accepted, taken, and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the whole Church of Ireland." (21) The following year, Ireland was subjected to the same vein of Reformation legislation as England, including the dissolution of the monasteries, the destruction of relics, and the establishment of an English liturgy. (22) Ireland was now at the forefront of Tudor politics, and the new policy towards Ireland was part of a more significant attempt to consolidate the Crown's monarchical authority within his peripheral realms. (23) The program was cultural, legal, and structural. The objective was to anglicize the Irish by coercion and, if that failed, to use violent suppression while demanding complete obedience and loyalty to the English Crown.

To further the policy of cultural Anglicization, in 1537, An Act of the English Order, Habit, and Language was passed concerning Ireland. The law demanded that the "English tongue, habit...

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