Academics are increasingly using social media, such as blogs and twitter, to communicate their work and ideas and to engage a wider public.  In a forum in the most recent issue of Dialogues in Human Geography 3(1) we discuss in detail the opportunities, challenges and risks of academics utilising social media, reflecting on our experiences of blogging on IrelandAfterNAMA.  In response are six commentaries that engage with, extend and critique our ideas.  The forum as a whole provides an interesting discussion about the politics, circulation and audiences of academic knowledge production and how social media is reconfiguring the way in which academics share their work and take part in public debate.  The issue is open access and we’re happy to continue the reflection and debate here.

Public geographies through social media, p. 56-72
by Rob Kitchin, Denis Linehan, Cian O’Callaghan and Philip Lawton

Whose geography? Which publics? p. 73-76
by Jeremy W Crampton, Jay Bowen, Daniel Cockayne, Brittany Cook, Eric Nost, Lindsay Shade, Laura Sharp and Malene Jacobsen

Social media and the academy: New publics or public geographies? p. 77-80
by Mark Graham

Blogs as ‘minimal’ politics, p. 81-84
by Andrew Davies

Academics’ diverse online public communications, p. 85-86
by Jenny Pickerill

Social media experiments: Scholarly practice and collegiality, p. 87-91
Chris Gibson and Leah Gibbs

Public geography and the politics of circulation, p. 92-95
by David Beer

The creation and circulation of public geographies, p. 96-102
Rob Kitchin, Denis Linehan, Cian O’Callaghan, and Philip Lawton




A new paper on housing and the Irish crisis has just been published in New Political Economy by Julien Mercille: “The Role of the Media in Sustaining Ireland’s Housing Bubble”.  It seems to be open access to download from the journal page.  There is also a short piece about it here.  This is the abstract:

This paper examines Irish mainstream media coverage of the housing bubble that burst in 2007 and plunged Ireland into economic and financial crisis. It is shown that news organisations largely sustained the bubble until the property market collapsed. As such, news stories reflected the views and interests of the Irish corporate and governmental sectors, which had adopted neoliberal policies during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ years (1990s to 2007). A political economic conceptualisation of the Irish media outlines four factors explaining why this is so: (1) news organisations have multiple links with the political and corporate establishment, of which they are part, thus sharing similar interests and viewpoints; (2) just like elite circles, they hold a neoliberal ideology, dominant during the boom years; (3) they feel pressures from advertisers, in particular, real estate companies; and (4) they rely heavily on ‘experts’ from elite institutions in reporting events. The last section presents a detailed empirical analysis of Irish media coverage (newspapers and television) of the housing bubble that confirms the above claims. It is shown that prior to the bubble’s collapse, the media made little mention of it, remained vague about it or tried to refute claims that it even existed, thus sustaining it.

Obama versus Romney 2012:
Domestic and international perspectives on the US Presidential race

Renehan Hall, South Campus, NUI Maynooth
Friday, October 5th: 10am-3.30pm
All Welcome.  No attendance fee.  To register to attend please contact


Confirmed speakers

Prof. Phil Abbott, Wayne State University: Obama, Romney and the Outsider Strategy
Prof. Abbott has written eleven books on the US presidency and presidential politics and is a distinguished professor of Political Science.

Harry Browne, DIT: The US Paradox: strong partisan cleavage in politics, narrow bipartisan consensus in government

Prof. Gary Murphy, DCU: How the Republicans became Democrats and vice versa

Prof. Charles Pattie, Sheffield University: TBA

Dr Adrian Kavanagh, NUI Maynooth: Red states, blue states, purple states: Why the where matters in US presidential elections


Sponsored by: Centre for the Study of Wider Europe, Geographical Society of Ireland, the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, and the Irish Social Sciences Platform.

Rob Kitchin

The following event will take place at University College Cork, September 6th 201, 2-6pm.  All welcome and no fee.  Venue: CACCSS Seminar Room, O’Rahilly Building. For more information and to register contact: Dr. Linda Connolly, Director, ISS21,

Transforming the Crisis: Engaging Social Science

An Irish Social Sciences Platform symposium hosted by the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century at UCC.

The fallout of recent events in Ireland (such as the Ryan Report and the Mahon Tribunal) and the legacy of the Celtic Tiger has led to a search for new understandings of both the economic and socio-cultural roots of the current ‘crisis’ or ‘crises’ in Ireland and for innovative solutions and creative thinking among public intellectuals.

This symposium aims to highlight the particular role social science/social scientists can play in transforming the crisis. Recent critical research on some of the most pressing and challenging problems in contemporary Ireland in relation to the economy, housing, media, governance, emigration, sustainability, gender and politics will be presented and explored.

2.00-3.00pm: Opening session

Engaging with the distinctiveness of Ireland’s development trajectory: Still a challenge for the social sciences
Professor Peadar Kirby (UL)

3.00-4.30pm: Unravelling ‘the Crisis’: Critical Issues

Crisis, Which Crisis? Reframing Growth in a Post-Carbon World
Dr Gerard Mullally (Department of Sociology, UCC)

Emigration Once Again? Emerging Trends in Current Irish Emigration in a Globalised Age
Dr Piaras MacEinrí (Department of Geography and ISS21, UCC)

(En)Gendering Governance: How a Gendered Analysis can contribute to Improved Decision-making in Politics
Fiona Buckley (Department of Government and ISS21, UCC)

4.45-6.00pm: Social Science, ‘the crisis’ and the public sphere

Creative Constructions – Media and Political Discourse amidst deep economic crisis in Ireland
Professor Paschal Preston (School of Communications, DCU)

Engaging Publics: Writing the Crisis
Professor Rob Kitchin (Director of NIRSA, NUIM)

Entrepreneurial Universities, Research Commercialisation and Publicly Funded Principal Investigators – Policy Rhetoric and Lived Realities
Dr. James Cunningham (Director of CISC, NUIG)


MIDSS – the NUIG based social sciences instruments databank funded as part of the ISSP research programme funded by the PRTLI4 – will be showcased at the end of the event

Anyone interested in the effects of the crisis on households who are struggling to pay their mortgages should take a look at Michelle Norris and Simon Brooke’s lengthy report for MABS on the issue – Lifting the load: Help for people with mortgage arrears.  The report is based on desk research with respect to government and industry data and policy responses, and interviews conducted with 49 MABS clients (in 43 households, in nine MABS offices across the country).  Divided into six sections the report details the study parameters, provides a general overview of the housing bubble and bust, details pathways into and through arrears from the perspective of households, and looks at prospective pathways out of arrears.  The study gives a fascinating insight into how households became indebted (mortgages and other credit) and how they are trying to negotiate their various debts, including dealing with mortgage arrears.  The report concludes by noting that ‘the costs to the State of putting in place appropriate measures to tackle the issue of mortgage arrears will be less than the costs of not doing so’, and it makes a number of recommendations with respect to changes in policy interventions.

Rob Kitchin

Just published: NIRSA Working Paper 67 – Unfinished Estates in Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland by Rob Kitchin, Cian O’Callaghan and Justin Gleeson.


In the wake of the global financial crisis, and the ongoing financial and fiscal crisis in Europe, much attention has focused on Ireland and its beleaguered economy given its status as one of the PIIGS and the fact that it had to be bailed out by the troika of the IMF, EU and ECB in November 2010.  Whilst much of the gaze has been directed at Ireland’s banks and the strategy of the Irish government to manage the crisis, a substantial amount of interest, both nationally and internationally, has been focused on the property sector and in particular the phenomenon of so-called ‘ghost estates’ (or in official terms, unfinished estates).  As of October 2011 there were 2,846 such estates in Ireland and they have come to visibly symbolise the collapse of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.  In this paper, we examine the unfinished estates phenomenon, placing them within the context of Ireland’s property boom during the Celtic Tiger years.  We detail the characteristics and geography of such estates, the various problems afflicting the estates and their residents, and the Irish government’s response to addressing those problems. In the final section we speculate as to the fate of such estates given the approach adopted and the wider political and economic landscape.

Full paper is here.


An article by Carl O’Brien in today’s Irish Times highlights the severe impacts of the recession on families. Almost 200,000 parents have applied for the Back to School allowance this year, an increase of over 120% since 2007. According to Department of Education and Skills, there were 864,000 students in full time first and second level education in 2010. If each parent who applied for the Allowance has the average family size of 1.9 children, this means that over 40% of children in first and second level education come from families experiencing financial difficulties. For example, a couple with one child, with a weekly household income of less than €563.60, will qualify for the allowance. This income is before expenses, so the increasing cost of food, housing and energy bills will create further difficulties for families already in need. There is a backlog in processing the applications for the allowance, in part because of the quantity of applications, but no doubt exacerbated by cutbacks in public service funding.

The everyday hardships of the economic crisis in Ireland sometimes get lost in discussions of the mesmerizing levels of national debt. This is a salutary reminder of the difficulties now faced by ordinary families, all across the country.

Mary Gilmartin

A blog post and discussion over on The Little Review is raising interesting issues in relation to the current challenges faced by Irish academia and in particular the humanities and social sciences. A key challenge identified is that of changing perceptions in relation to the hours that academics actually work (6 hours a week, 6 months of the year). A wider issue is how best to link research and teaching in a university context so that undergraduate students have a greater understanding and awareness of what universities are about. More fundamentally we can ask whether the  social sciences and humanities as a whole have taken on the task of demonstrating their value and relevance to society in a way that goes beyond the narrow rhetoric of Smart Economy? Are the challenges facing the different disciplines fundamentally different in this regard or is it possible to have a common voice?

Cormac Walsh

In the context of the recent financial meltdown, widespread unemployment, and the proliferation of unfinished estates, the problems associated with existing areas characterised by poverty and structural disadvantage have not vanished but rather been submerged beneath the mainstream discourses of the crisis; in much the same way as they were submerged beneath the mainstream discourse of economic expansion and wealth creation during the Celtic Tiger years.  A fascinating collection of photographs depicting “youths coming of age in a world of drugs, gangs and arson” in Ballymun by artist Ross McDonell offers an arresting reminder of the other side of the Celtic Tiger.  ‘Joyrider’ presents frank portraits of vandalism, dereliction and crime in the lives of children and young adults growing up in Ballymun.   “These pictures document the transition from anti-social behaviour to criminality, from childhood to adulthood without a ‘youth’ in between,” says McDonnell.  Yet, in an interview in the New York Times, he also infers a sense of community within this ritualistic culture.  “I felt that one of the consequences of the huge changes brought about by the Celtic Tiger was a loss of some of the things that defined us as Irish… One of these things was our sense of community spirit, that notion that we were all in it together”.  These are pictures of communities on the margins of the boom who remain marginal in the aftermath of the crash.

Cian O’ Callaghan

Yesterday saw the publication of a special issue of the Journal of Irish Urban Studies: Dublin 2026, the Future Urban Environment.  The papers are all taken from the Urban Environment Project – a collaboration between UCD, NUIM and TCD and funded by the EPA – that has sought to better understand the link between development, land-use change and associated economic and environmental impact within urban regions, focusing in particular on the Dublin region.

A PDF of the all the papers can be downloaded from here. There was some coverage in yesterday’s Irish Times – an article ‘Legislation on conflicts of interest key to city planning‘ and ‘Rectifying our planning errors‘.

To access each individual paper click on the links below.

Introduction to Dublin 2026: The Future Urban Environment Ronan Foley, John Sweeney

The Development of the Functional Urban Region of Dublin: Implications for Regional Development Markets and Planning
Brendan Williams, Cormac Walsh, Ian Boyle

Changing office location patterns and their importance in the peripheral expansion of the Dublin region 1960 – 2008.
Andrew MacLaran, Katia Attuyer, Brendan Williams

Biodiversity in Dublin, A case study approach
Carmel Brennan, Sheila Convery, Michael Brennan

Simulated future development of the Greater Dublin Area: consequences for protected areas and coastal flooding risk
Michael Brennan, Tamara Hochstrasser, Harutyun Shahumyan

Regional governance and the challenge of managing socio-economic change
Deiric O Broin


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