Seán Ó Riain has two recent opinion pieces that address the future of the Irish political economy and social contract.

A recent article in the Irish Times draws on the analysis in The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger (see post below) to caution against repeating the mistakes of the Celtic Tiger era. An op-ed in the Irish Independent examines the role a new form of social partnership could play in that process.

At a recent Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference Seán’s presentation examined the importance of an ‘investment diamond’ for promoting a fair recovery. See the slides of A Fair Recovery for Ireland and the video of the talk (starts around 33 minutes, after an excellent talk by Reiner Hoffman).

At Social Justice Ireland’s conference Seán explored these issues in more depth in a discussion of ‘Ireland Through a Nordic Lens’ – the slides of the talk are available here. See also this short interview on issues facing the Irish economy.

Europe’s Crisis

July 16, 2014

Seán Ó Riain has an article on “Why Isn’t Europe More Keynesian?” in the Social Europe Journal, July 2014

A recent seminar on “The Diversity and Dilemmas of Europe’s Capitalisms” at the Economic and Social Research Institute explored similar issues, the paper can be found here.

Seán has also examined these issues in relation to the Fiscal Treaty, including a submission to the Oireachtas (with Dr John O’Brennan) and an op-ed in the Irish Times on the missing elements in Chancellor Merkel’s vision for Europe.

This recent talk and paper by Seán Ó Riain at the Nevin Economic Research Institute gives an overview of the issues and makes the case for an extended and rejuvenated enterprise policy as central to economic recovery:

Details of the talk     Read the paper

Other contributions include:

An overview chapter in D. Jacobson (ed) Nuts and Bolts of Innovation

An op-ed in the Irish Times with Michael O’Sullivan arguing that a state investment bank could shift the Irish economy away from an over-reliance on property

In this video Seán discusses the enterprise policy implications of NESC Report 125 – Economic Recovery and Jobs (see more on the report here)

The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger: Liberalism, Boom and Bust

ORiainCoverBy Seán Ó Riain

The book was launched in May by Professor Rory O’Donnell, Director, National Economic and Social Council of Ireland


As Ireland appears to sit on the edge of economic recovery, it faces many of the same choices about its future that it faced – and failed to make – in the early 2000s. Once again, Ireland faces the choice of ‘Boston or Berlin’ – or some alternative to both.

This book documents how the domination of financial markets in investment decisions, a hollowed out version of the European project and a weak and unsustainable national social contract overwhelmed many of the genuine advances made in the 1990s and lead to a disastrous economic crisis.

The questions of the power of private finance, the future of the European social and economic model and Ireland’s ability to build a genuine social and political pact among its citizens remain crucial to what kind of recovery can be built in Ireland – and what kind of society and economy will be produced from it.

Click here for more information

Reviews & endorsements

Read the reviews by John Bradley in Dublin Review of Books, Joe Larragy in Working for Change and by Rob Kitchin in The View from the Blue House.

‘Seán Ó’Riain has done it again. His new book combines a rich diagnosis of the Irish case with keen comparative insights into the changing organisation of market societies. In The Rise and Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger, we gain new insights into the politics of financialization within and across Europe.’
Fred Block, Research Professor, University of California, Davis

‘The collapse of Ireland’s famous Celtic Tiger in the early twenty-first century is a remarkable story of corporatism, clientelism, globalisation and ultimately liberalism run amok. Sean Ó’Riain’s analysis of the underlying shift from economic growth based on industrial development to growth based on financial speculation is insightful, not only in explaining how it all happened, but also in showing that understanding it requires a serious reconsideration of scholarship on the varieties of capitalism, small states in world markets, and political economy and economic sociology in general. This is an important and very timely book.’
John L. Campbell, Class of 1925 Professor, Dartmouth College and Professor of Political Economy, Copenhagen Business School

‘A truly wonderful and supremely important book, which places Ireland’s rise and subsequent fall in exactly the kind of socio-economic and political-historical perspective that is desperately required and yet which has been so sorely lacking in much of the existing literature. A most powerful corrective to established orthodoxies, this should be required reading for all of us anxious to learn the right lessons from the crisis, in Ireland and beyond.’
Colin Hay, Sciences Po, Paris and the University of Sheffield

‘A careful and insightful analysis of the dramatic changes in Irish economic activity and performance over the past 25 years by the leading scholar of Ireland’s political economy.’
Bill Roche, Professor of Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University College Dublin

Symposium: “Can Social Investment Save Social Europe?”

On Thurs., 29th of May, a special seminar on Social Investment in Europe will be held at NUI Maynooth, hosted by the Department of Sociology/ NIRSA, Political Economy and Work Cluster and the New Deals in the New Economy project.

The seminar will run from 9.30 to 1.30 and will be followed by the launch of a new MA in Sociology (Work, Labour Markets and Employment) by Minister Joan Burton.

‘Social Investment’ focuses on investing in people’s skills and capacities and supporting them to participate fully in employment and social life (EU Commission). Does ‘social investment’ lead to a renewal or an erosion of the welfare state? Will ‘social investment’ support economic and social recovery?

The event will start at 9.30 with registration and coffee followed by the seminar at 10.00 in the Phoenix building on the North Campus in NUIM keynoted by Prof Anton Hemerijck, VU University Amsterdam and Prof Brian Nolan, UCD, and chaired by Prof. Seán Ó Riain.

Following a break for coffee there will be a roundtable discussion with: Rossella Ciccia (NUIM), Tom Healy (NERI) and Rory O’Donnell (NESC), chaired by Mary Murphy (NUIM).

See more at:

Please register for the seminar by emailing before May 26th, 2014


Dr Rossella Ciccia, a postdoctoral researcher working with New Deals will copublish a paper on Childcare services in the next issue of “Social Politics” called “After the Male Breadwinner Model? Childcare Services and the Division of Labor in European Countries”. The paper uses fuzzy set ideal types to assess the conformity of childcare provisions in Europe.


Fundamental reforms in childcare services appear to have eroded traditional support to the male breadwinner model across European states. There has been a strong debate about the direction of these changes, and the ways in which childcare services can alter the division of labor and promote gender equality. This paper deals with these issues by using fuzzy set ideal-type analysis to assess the conformity of childcare service provisions in European economies to Fraser’s four ideal typical models: male breadwinner, caregiver parity, universal breadwinner, and universal caregiver. We find that there is resilience of traditional gender roles in the majority of European countries, while there are different variants of the universal breadwinner shaping different forms of childcare policies. The more equalitarian universal caregiver model maintains its utopian character.

Eoin Flaherty, postdoctoral researcher with the New Deals project and Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, has been appointed to a permanent lecturer position in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen’s University Belfast. Eoin has been appointed as part of the quantitative social science (Q-Step) initiative, one of whose centres is located within QUB Sociology. Eoin completed his PhD on capitalist development and socio-ecological resilience in nineteenth century Ireland in 2013, under the supervision of Dr. Eamonn Slater. He is currently working on the dynamics of declining labour share of national income in advanced capitalist economies, examining the role of factors such as globalisation, financialisation and national institutional regimes. A selection of his papers is available here.   Eoin has been a fantastic citizen of the Department of Sociology and NIRSA over the years – with terrific sociological (and even geographical…) insights mixed with his friendship and collegiality. We look forward to staying in touch with him in the new part of his sociological life.

Dr. Felix Behling presented a seminar on welfare policies provided by employers in Germany and the UK and how these “perks” are linked to the welfare policies of the state.


From Cadburys to Google, from BMW to SAP, many employers have provided their employees with significant ‘perks’. The paper deals with the creation and use of welfare outside the British and German welfare states, showing that employer welfare and governmental welfare are inherently interwoven. It also shows that the modern employment relationship has developed from an ad-hoc idea into an institution that exists independently from its main actors and that can influence their actions. What are the consequences for the position of workers in Germany and the UK of the different ways in which employers and the employment relationship has developed?

Recent Talks

February 14, 2014

This post contains two papers from recent talks by Professor Seán Ó Riain. “The Diversity and Dilemmas of Europe’s Capitalisms” was presented at a seminar in the ESRI, where Seán discussed Europe’s recent crises through the lens of comparative political economy. Details of the event are available here. The second paper “Enterprise Policy and Ireland’s Economic Recovery” was presented at a seminar hosted by NERI. Seán discussed the role of enterprise policy in Ireland’s recovery, and its place in the wider promotion of social and economic investment. Some details of the event are available here.


Wednesday, February 12th 10am-12pm

An Foras Feasa Seminar Room

Room 1.33, 1st Floor Iontas Building, NUIM

All Welcome

The increasing importance of finance has been widely recognized both in political terms and in the growing body of academic work around the concept of financialization. This discussion, organised by the Political Economy and Work Cluster at NUIM, brings together a number of researchers to discuss how they conceptualise financialization and how they make use of that conceptualization in their work.
Short inputs from each of the researchers will kick off the session, followed by an open, informal discussion. The event is open to all and registration is not required. For information email
With the participation of:
> Sinéad Kelly, Dept. of Geography, NUIM
> Eoin Flaherty, National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis, NUIM
> Séan Ó Riain, National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis and Dept. of Sociology, NUIM
> Patrick Gallagher, National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis and Dept. of Sociology, NUIM
> Mick Byrne, National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis, NUIM