Although power and conflict reside within all social and political relations, the recent structural changes resulting from the globalisation, deep economic crisis and the end of a post war Manichean world order have presented ongoing analyatical challenges. The transformation of the nation-state, the resurgence of nationalism, ethnic conflict and identity politics, the expansion of populist and neo-liberal policies, the continuing exploitation of vulnerable groups and the emergence of new forms of political attachment and violence have reaffirmed the importance of the study of power, social conflict and political ideologies. One of the key research strengths of the School is its devotion to in-depth analysis of these central problems of contemporary life. This work spans a range of specific topics and utilises the tools of both classical and contemporary social and political analysis.


For further information on current and future research activities of this group, key publications and postgraduate research opportunities, please contact the convenor:

Kathy Powell

Office: 321 Aras Moyola
Telephone: 353 (0)91 493804
Email: kathy.powell@nuigalway.ie
Power, Conflict and Ideologies

Cluster Themes

Theorising social power

The focus of this research theme is on the classical and contemporary social theory approaches to social and political power. More specifically this includes the conceptual analysis of coercion, consensus and power, the relationships between power, modernity and social order, political philosophy of power, the politics of order and the construction of the abnormal.

Nationalism, populism and ethnic conflict

This research theme addresses the theoretical and comparative analyses of conflict and cultural difference. In particular the emphasis is on the sociological theories of ethnicity and nationalism, ethnic conflict in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and Rwanda, the relationships between ethnicity, nationalism and organised violence, the sociology of warfare, populism and agrarian politics in rural Ireland and nationalism, liberalism and modernity.

Hegemony, ideology and legitimacy

The key issues explored in this research theme include theories of ideology, discourse and hegemony, the discourses of social exclusion and modernity, neo-liberalism, the state and civil society, theorizing inequality and the domain of ’welfare, theorizing the social and the work in social work and rhetoric and ideology.



Ricca Edmondson
Professor: The history and sociology of wisdom; ageing, the life course and intergenerational relations; and links between ethnography, rhetoric and interculturality

Paul Michael Garrett
Senior Lecturer: Theory of social work; modernisation of social work and social care

Mark Haugaard
Professor: Social and political power, modernity, the problem of social order, and the relationship between nationalism and liberalism.

Donal Igoe
Lecturer: Change in Irish Family Patterns, government budgetary policy

Peter Morriss
Lecturer:  The concept of power from within the tradition of analytic political theory; Liberalism and liberal political philosophy, particularly in relation to the nature of law within a liberal polity; The application of political philosophy to contemporary issues, such as public transport, abortion and (more recently) marriage; this has led to an interest in the history of the law on these topics, particularly abortion, on which I am currently working.

Niall Ó Dochartaigh
Senior Lecturer: Politics of conflict in Northern Ireland, new technologies and conflict, nationalism and territoriality, negotiated settlements of conflict.

Kathy Powell
Lecturer:  Political practices, political rationality and violence in Mexico, Central American - US migration, the production and positioning of labour.

Kevin Ryan
Lecturer: How the ordering of society (past and present) institutes specific modes of inclusion and exclusion, and in particular the ways in which contemporary discourses of ’social exclusion’ – a relatively new category of social thought and political action – have recoded long-standing problems relating to inequality, poverty and domination.  

Tony Varley
Senior Lecturer: Populism and local development in Ireland, the smallholder question in Ireland, the community movement, Muintir na Tire.

Postgraduate Research Students

Míceál Daniel Cronin
Militant Struggle: The Politics of Power & Freedom -  An investigation into the role of state and popular violence in the formation, development & disintegration of armed challengers. Employing two case-studies, the thesis comparatively analyses the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Liam Farrell
Doctoral Candidate in Social & Political Theory and Cultural Politics. My research focuses on the politics of truth, and the various ways in which social agents identify with and make use of the signifier of 'the Republic' in the context of modern Ireland."

Gary Hussey

Martin Javornicky

Giada Lagana

Chloe Lappin

Michael Martin
Michael is currently completing a PhD under the supervision of Dr Niall Ó Dochairtaigh that looks at IRA - British state interaction in the period leading up to the IRA ceasefire. He has research interests in Irish and British politics, peace and conflict studies, political violence and international relations.

Carmel Martyn
Policing Civil Rights Protests: A Comparative Analysis of the Northern Ireland and American Deep South Civil Rights Demonstrations. 1960-1969. The decade of the 1960s witnessed profound discrimination and segregation experienced by the Catholic community in Northern Ireland and the African- American community in the American Deep South. As a result, both communities mobilised by means of marches and demonstrations to confront this discrimination and to seek justice. Protesters in both communities encountered police strategies which included both physical and psychological abuse, and in a number of protests death resulted from the extreme force applied by the actions of the police. As a result various commissions were set up, both in London and in the United States, to investigate allegations of police brutality.
My research focuses on the strategies the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the American Deep South police deployed in managing a cluster of protests which took place in both aforementioned states between 1960 and 1969. The aim of this research is to compare those strategies and to delineate key underlying themes that may have been at play in the broader political forces that surrounded the police in both communities at the time, in such a way as to socially organise their strategies. These research questions are designed to probe the way in which what happens on the ground, as it were, can be traced back to the broader political apparatuses of power, their representatives, their ideologies, and the intricate ways in which such ideologies translate into policies that shaped the Deep South Police in America and the RUC in Northern Ireland.   

Olivia McEvoy

Anita Naughton
Anita is a PhD candidate with the School of Political Science and Sociology, using a sociological framework and qualitative methodology to investigate everyday racism in the West of Ireland.  Awarded a BA in English, Sociology and Politics from National University of Ireland Galway, Anita has worked in training, financial services and human resources in the private sector.

Eamonn O’Neachtain

PhD Graduates

Jenny Dagg
Governmentality & Immigration. The objective is to understand the empirical realities that immigrants are facing and on a macro level to understand the governmentality lying behind this policy. This investigation will be supported by Foucault's theory of Governmentality, and later Mitchell Dean's expansion of this theory as a 'problem-centred and present-orientated' concept. The purpose of availing of Foucault's concept of governmentality is that it will support research into the implicit mentality, art and regime of government, which acts as a tacit frame of reference for the administration of government as regards immigration.

Jonathan G. Heaney
Habitus Shift in Liquid Modern Ireland. This project explores the relationship between social change and emotional habitus in late modernity, particularly Ireland. Due to the speed and scale of change that has occurred here Ireland is an ideal site for such research yet the emotional aspects of change remain unexplored. One of the key objectives is to suggest that many of the problematic social and sociological issues that have emerged in light of this rapid change may be rooted in an altered affective constitution. In doing so, it draws on insights from social theory (Elias, Bourdieu) the sociology of emotions, social psychology and social neuroscience. (PS: Mark Haugaard/Kevin Ryan) (Government of Ireland Scholar)

Anna King
Interactions between successful community leaders and others in their social and political settings and their relations with identifiable forms of wisdom.This research sets out to understand processes of effective leadership within an Irish East Galway community (Doughiska, Roscam and Ardaun), with a view to deepening our understanding of effective leadership relationships and patterns using concepts involving the ideas of wisdom. Case studies of leaders who exemplify wisdom leadership will also be conducted to assess how processes of integrative (wise) leadership can bring value to Irish leadership situations. (PS: R. Edmondson) (IRCHSS-funded Scholar)

Judith O’Connell
The Socialisation of Nationalism.  This project will relate concepts of socialisation to nationalism by applying the sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu to the theoretical work of Ernest Gellner on Nationalism. I will also examine the contributions made by Norbert Elias, Benedict Anderson and Michael Billig, to define how Nationalism is internalised. Elias and Bourdieu cited that the education system, mass media and civil organisations acted as the foremost tools of socialisation. Scholars of nationalism such as E. Hobsbawn pronounce the making of national heroes and myths as one of the primary factors that unite a population as a nation. Therefore by contrasting text books from different stages in Ireland’s history it should become apparent how the portrayal of pivotal events and figures is adjusted to reflect the changes within the political and social climate. (Government of Ireland Scholar).

Carol Staunton
Interpreting crime in periods of conflict: a gender analysis of concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and the Bosnian War (1992-1995). My project will provide a gender analysis of conflict, using concentration camps as the main site of inquiry. Through qualitative research, it will determine how conflict, in the form of concentration camps used during the second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and the Bosnian War (1992-1995), impacts on gendered experiences in terms of perpetration, victimisation, and specifically the identification and criminalisation of acts.