Employing the conceptual framework elaborated by Pierre Bourdieu, Peillon provides a unified analysis of social welfare institutions and practices in Ireland. In an effort to offer an overview of the forces that have shaped and continue to influence the Irish welfare system, the author examines the actions and approaches taken by various actors involved in social welfare policy making, including the Catholic Church, the State, trade unions, employers' organizations, and feminist movements. Peillon also incorporates comparative issues that continue to impact on the way welfare systems develop and react to changes. While the focus of the work is on the struggles and developments in the Irish welfare system, this case study provides a framework for examining welfare efforts in general, and should, therefore, appeal to anyone interested in social welfare systems and policies. This unique examination of welfare in Ireland is organized into two parts. Part I focuses on the collective actors in the welfare field and lays the theoretical framework for the sociological analysis used throughout the work. Part II considers the dynamics resulting from the practices and strategies of the various actors. The chapters in the second part of the book endeavor to understand the dynamics of the welfare field which are triggered by the struggle between the main actors. Examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of these actors, in conjunction with their resources and goals, the author illustrates how the current welfare system has developed and changed as a result.
MICHEL PEILLON teaches Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth./e He has written extensively on many aspects of Irish society and had been published in many Irish and international journals. He has authored or edited four other books.