Identity and Capitalism


Marie Moran

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  • Dedication

    For Mam and Dad


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    About the Author

    Dr Marie Moran is a lecturer in Equality Studies at the UCD School of Social Justice, Dublin. She has an interdisciplinary background, with a degree in English Literature and Psychology from Trinity College Dublin, and an MSc and PhD in Equality Studies, combining sociology, political theory, cultural studies and political economy. Her main areas of interest are the development of cultural materialism as a sociological paradigm, ideology and power in capitalist societies, and the social and political theory of equality, on all of which she has also published. She is also engaged in a number of broadly anti-capitalist activist campaigns in her home town of Dublin, and is a founding member of Debt Justice Action Ireland, and the Irish chapter of ATTAC, both of which attempt to ‘disarm the power of the financial markets’ through public action and popular education programmes.


    There are very many people I want to thank for their help and encouragement in writing this book. First, to those who helped me with the academic nuts and bolts. This book began life as a doctoral thesis, under the patient and careful supervision of John Baker at the UCD School of Social Justice. John's intellectual insights, rigorous feedback and generosity of time and spirit have been an enormous source of help and encouragement to me, and indeed, made this book possible. Thank you John, for your unwavering and continued faith in me, and for setting me on the course I continue today. I want also to thank Jim McGuigan, who has long been an intellectual inspiration of mine, and more recently, a good friend. I have benefited enormously from his active encouragement and stern advice, and take heart from the fact that we are like-minded creatures with a similar admiration for the work of Raymond Williams (though I, apparently, am more ‘prolix’ than Jim, and have a terrible tendency to meddle needlessly with words). Very many thanks to Harry Browne, who supported me enormously through the summer of 2013 in particular, and in the final stages of editing. Reading drafts while on holidays, even, Harry unravelled historical knots, made incisive interventions and spurred me forward. And to Andy Storey – I could not have finished this book without you. In the final weeks, Andy read and commented on every single chapter, with a sharp eye and a sharper pen – confirming, in many cases, Jim's worst suspicions, but rooting them out, so no one else would be subjected to such boring verbosity (that's the dictionary definition, Jim). Thank you Andy, for your huge generosity, support and attention to detail. John, Jim, Harry and Andy, I am truly indebted to all of you.

    Many other people have offered great support and assistance to me over the course of writing this book. I want to thank Kathleen Lynch and all the staff and students of Equality Studies, and latterly, the UCD School of Social Justice. In particular, I want to thank Maureen Lyons and Judy Walsh, for their enduring support and much valued friendship. I am also very grateful to Andrew Sayer, for his deeply generous and insightful guidance during my four-month visit to Lancaster University, and for prompting me — mixed metaphors aside — to leave behind postmodernism. In addition, I would like to thank my editors at SAGE, Chris Rojek and Gemma Shields, for the support and encouragement they gave me while writing this book, with special thanks to Gemma for her patient assistance, helpful feedback and unwavering enthusiasm. Special gratitude goes to the crew of Debt Justice Action Ireland and ATTAC Ireland, with whom I worked over the course of writing this book: thank you all for being great friends and inspirational proof of collective, anti-capitalist activism. For other practical and scholarly help when I needed it most, thanks to Conor McCabe, Edel McAteer, Vincent Browne, Gavan Titley, Pilar Villar Argáiz, Theresa O'Keefe, Niamh McCrea and Eoghan McDermott. A special thanks to Eileen Drumm for lending me her house in Cork for two crucial weeks of writing, even though she had never met me.

    To my much loved friends, Laura Craig, Lorna Powell, Sinead O'Dwyer and Su O'Mara, thank you for always cheering me up, filling me in, bringing me out and keeping me sane. I would like to give special mention to Keith Darragh, for his ‘motivational’ text messages, emails and phonecalls. I will quite literally never forget them. And to Pete Drumm, thank you for your huge kindness, practical support and for always making me laugh when I most needed to. You are one in a million.

    Finally, to my family. Jean, your continual positive reinforcement, encouragement and steadfast faith in me has been a constant source of strength. Brian, thank you for your practical and humorous outlook, your steady support, and the sense of perspective you have given me over the course of this book. Kate, even though as a 15-year-old you probably doubt this, you are a constant source of happiness in my life, and you make me remember the importance of having fun. If you ever come to me in the future for advice on whether or not to write a book, I will most likely, therefore, advise the latter. Dad, thank you for giving me my love of reading, writing and arguing, and a strong belief in social justice. Chapter 2 in particular is for you, as you instilled in me, from a very young age, the power of words — I hope I do you justice. And Mam, thank you for your unconditional love, generosity, sense of fun, but most of all, for your optimism. You helped me to keep going during some tough times, and I will always be grateful.

    I would like to acknowledge receipt of the National University of Ireland (NUI) grant towards publication, for which I am very grateful. I would like to thank the editorial board of The Sociological Review, as well as their publishers, Wiley, for permission to reuse extracts from the article ‘Raymond Williams and Sociology’, which appeared first in The Sociological Review, February 2014, 62(1): 167–188. I am also grateful to Jim McGuigan, with whom I co-wrote the article, for allowing me to use these extracts in this volume. Finally, I want to thank Andrew Sayer for allowing me to use some of his wording from an email exchange we had on the merits of Boltanski and Chiapello's concept of a spirit of capitalism, reproduced here in Chapter 3.


    Be careful when speaking. You create the world around you with your words.

    ~ Quote attributed to the Navajo storytelling tradition ~

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