Church, state and social science in Ireland

Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937–73

By Peter Murray and Maria Feeney

Church, state and social science in Ireland


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2172-1
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: December 2018
  • BIC Category: Irish Studies, Ireland, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, Humanities / Religion & politics, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Ireland


The immense power the Catholic Church once wielded in Ireland has considerably diminished over the last fifty years. During the same period the Irish state has pursued new economic and social development goals by wooing foreign investors and throwing the state's lot in with an ever-widening European integration project. How a less powerful church and a more assertive state related to one another during the key third quarter of the twentieth century is the subject of this book. Drawing on newly available material, it looks at how social science, which had been a church monopoly, was taken over and bent to new purposes by politicians and civil servants. This case study casts new light on wider processes of change, and the story features a strong and somewhat surprising cast of characters ranging from Sean Lemass and T.K. Whitaker to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and Father Denis Fahey.


'It makes excellent use of original archival research to offer new and revised perspectives, the essence of good social-science research, of which Peter Murray and Maria Feeney, of Maynooth University, are admirable and hardworking practitioners.'
Diarmaid Ferriter, University College Dublin, The Irish Times July 2017


Peter Murray is Lecturer in Sociology at Maynooth University, Ireland

Maria Feeney has lectured in Sociology and Education at Maynooth University, Ireland


1. Sociology and Catholic social movement in an independent Irish State
2. Facing facts: the empirical turn of Irish Catholic sociology in the 1950s
3. US Aid and the creation of an Irish scientific research infrastructure
4. The institutionalisation of Irish social research
5. Social research and state planning

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