NUI Galway Academics contribute to New Edition of Anthropological

Friday, 7 December 2001

Release date: 7 December, 2001

NUI Galway Academics contribute to New Edition of Anthropological Classic

The third edition of a pioneering anthropological text entitled, Family and Community in Ireland, was launched in NUI, Galway today (Friday), by Michael D. Higgins, TD. An extended introduction that brings to light much new material concerning the political, economic and cultural context in which the study was conducted, has been provided by Dr. Anne Byrne, Dr. Ricca Edmondson and Dr. Anthony Varley of the University s Department of Political Science and Sociology

Family and Community in Ireland, written by Harvard authors, Conrad Arensberg and Solon Kimball, is based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork among the people of north Clare and the townspeople of Ennis in the years 1932-4. It is a world-renowned social anthropological study of how a traditional rural society functioned in the early decades of the twentieth century.

One of Family and Community in Ireland's main purposes was to arouse interest in the possibilities of ethnographic fieldwork methods in settings outside premodern and so-called 'primitive' societies and the societies of the industrially advanced 'modern' world. The outstanding interest in Ireland for authors of Family and Community in Ireland lay in the fact that it was still an overwhelmingly rural society in Europe that could be located somewhere in between the pre-modern 'primitive' world and the industrial advanced societies.

Family and Community in Ireland provides a detailed study of family and kin, of life and work, of mutuality in social and economic relationships among the small farmer class. Its authors reveal a story of the importance and centrality of the family as a social and economic system, which produced and reproduced a self-sufficient, traditional rural community. Documenting the 'minutiae of social life', this book represents a view of the 'Old World from the inside' by two 'outsiders' from the 'New World', 'a document expressing a point-of-time in the social life of rural Ireland'.

This third edition of Family and Community in Ireland is accompanied by new material which allows us to reconstruct the day-to-day experiences of the anthropologists during their time in County Clare. Both the book and its new introduction provide the general reader and the social science student with an opportunity to reassess the significance of this classic text.

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Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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