IQDA is an important resource for preserving and understanding the contemporary social history of Ireland. Every few months, on this page, we illustrate how the social science data we archive sheds light on a particular theme, and we also invite you to share your own experiences relating to the topic through our blog.
PUTTING THE CHILDREN REFERENDUM IN THE CONTEXT OF FAMILY CHANGE
Download Full Research Briefing
The Family Rhythms project aims to re-vision family change in modern Ireland in light of recent theoretical developments, through an in-depth analysis of newly available qualitative data resources held in the Irish Qualitative Data Archive. The Family Rhythms project has been funded by a Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowship from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Learn more about the Family Rhythms project
On Saturday, the 10th of November 2012, the people of the Irish Republic are called to vote in The Children Referendum, regarding the explicit recognition of the rights of the child by the Constitution of Ireland (see www.referendum2012.ie).
At the heart of the Children Referendum is a transformation over the course of the last century in the way that childhood is viewed in Irish society. Some of the conditions that we consider normal for a happy, safe and fulfilling early life today are quite different to what past generations have considered normal in childhood.
Using the datasets of two national studies that are archived at IQDA (1) Life Histories and Social Change (LHSC) and (2) Growing Up in Ireland 9 year old cohort (GUI), we can explore four generations of childhood that span the 75 years of the Constitution of Ireland, exploring why an Article written in 1937 is on the agenda for reconsideration in 2012.
Aspect 1: Marital Status and Parenthood
During their own lifetimes the majority of respondents in the Life Histories and Social Change (LHSC) project had witnessed dramatic changes in family forms in Ireland. Particularly for the oldest respondents, by the time they are interviewed in the late 2000s, the rules and norms of courtship and marriage had become unrecognisable to them;
Changing societal attitudes to the birth of children outside of marriage is particularly striking, when examined across the decades. Stories from the early twentieth century are saturated with secrecy and shame for both the pregnant woman and her family;
By 1980s the remnants of concealing an out of wedlock pregnancy persisted for many women while they decided what course of action to take;
By the 2000s dramatic changes in family forms were underway in Ireland, with increases in non-traditional households of single parents, and non-marital families, to the extent that children could talk openly about this;
Aspect 2: Parental Duty
In past generations, it was expected that children who were well raised would be courteous and well behaved in the presence of adults;
Both the threat and deployment of corporal punishment were commonly used to maintain respect of elders. It was expected that the punishment imposed on children in the classroom would be supported by parents in the home;
Amongst modern day parents, the use of corporal punishment had become socially unacceptable to the extent that any form of slapping, spanking or physical retribution was never mentioned or alluded by parents. Instead restrictive discipline, such as 'grounding' or removal of toys and privileges was deployed, although some parents appeared perplexed as to how to impose this kind of discipline;
In some accounts it was possible to see differences between the discipline deployed by the older generation on their grandchildren and that deployed by the child's own parents;
Aspect 3: Fostering and Adoption of the Children of Married Parents
During the early twentieth century a culture of large families often left parents very stretched when providing for their families and it was common practice to send the oldest children away to live with unmarried relatives on the arrival of a new baby;
Poverty, especially after the death of one parent could lead to the separation of families between concerned relatives, and this sometimes resulted in long term broken the links between siblings;
Aspect 4. Listening to the Views of Children
Although parents today continue to monitor and restrict the exposure of their children to knowledge deemed too adult for their age, in previous generations there was a much stronger distinction between the conversational world of adults and that of children;
In many households clamour and commotion of young children around the dinner table was not tolerated, and communal meals at the dinner table could be seeped in tension;
Modern day parents, on the other hand, often encouraged their children to talk to them, using specific daily events such as dinnertime or bedtime for intimate conversation. Many parents also took great pleasure in hearing their children's questions, stories and opinions;
Some modern day parents described 'democratic parenting' in the home, where children could voice their opinions on decision made by parents.
Download Full Research Briefing
The Family Rhythms project aims to re-vision family change in modern Ireland in light of recent theoretical developments, through an in-depth analysis of newly available qualitative data resources held in the Irish Qualitative Data Archive.
Learn more about the Family Rhythms project
THE THEME OF CHILDHOOD AND PLAY
Childhood play might not seem like a very serious topic for a social science archive, but researchers have increasingly emphasized how children actively contribute to changing patterns of social life. Play is one of the ways in which children interpret their place in society, create their own peer cultures and participate in social change. Datasets currently being archived at IQDA include insights on the following areas.
Memories of toys and popular games
Older respondents in the ‘Life Histories and Social Change’ project drew contrasts between the simple toys and games of the recent past, and contemporary children’s play:
Changing time and space for play
During the 1930s and forties, rural children had little time to play before or after school, because of the many jobs they had to do around the farm. But they still found ways to create their own childhood worlds:
The Celtic Tiger
During the ‘Celtic Tiger,’ children living in the new suburbs around Dublin had more time to play, but less space as illustrated in the shoolchildren's essays below, from the ‘New Urban Living’ project.
Play and social divisions
The social divisions that mark adult society can restrict children’s play, but children also find ways to interpret and manage those divisions, as remembered by some older respondents in studies hosted by the archive.
IQDA EDUCATION RESOURCES
Collection of audio and visual material covering a series of sociological topics. The IQDA Learning Resources work as a self-guided learning tool for students.
Collection of audio clips that educators can use in the classroom. Educators can also apply to the IQDA for access to transcripts for teaching purposes.
Recent blog posts
- Ethnicity, Human Rights & Data Collection
- Incorporating Research Evidence into Academic Learning - A Seminar for Third Level Institutions
- Is family influence declining? The impact of parents and grandparents over 35 years
- National & Transnational Cultural Flows & Place, Postgraduate Summer School
- Munster Oral History Forum, Saturday 27 April 2013
- International Summer School in Qualitative Research Methods in Education, IV Edition
- Qualitative longitudinal data analysis: a research methods training day
- Writing across Boundaries Workshop, April 2013
- Bridging qualitative, quantitative and spatial datasets: a configurational approach to multisource coding
- Archiving consultancy post with CDI