The role of Irish and Irish-themed media in the formation and maintenance of Irish cultural identity in Britain

Dwyer, Dan
This thesis is an exploration of the role of Irish media in the formation and maintenance of Irish cultural identity in Britain. Cultural identity is understood as a discursive construct formed and maintained by social interaction inflected by media in all its forms. The Irish in Britain are conceptualised as a media audience that engages with Irish and Irish-themed media content in Britain to negotiate, strengthen and maintain their Irish identities there. Thirty interviews were carried out with participants across Britain who self-identified as Irish and who considered Irish media or Irish-themed media content to be a significant feature of their everyday lives. The interviews reveal the complex personal histories that underpin self identification as Irish in Britain but two main narratives emerged allowing for division of the participants into first-generation migrants who arrived in Britain as adults and second- (and later-) generation migrants who grew up there. The interviews are analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach to reveal the rich and complex relationship between media and Irish identity in Britain. It is concluded that the media audience habits of first-generation Irish migrants to Britain play a key role in passing on Irish identity and Irish media use to subsequent generations of the Irish in Britain. First-generation Irish migrants to Britain seek out familiar media content from Ireland as a means of maintaining and validating Irishness while there and as an investment in possible future return to Ireland. The second- (and later-) generation Irish in Britain also seek out Irish media made familiar during childhoods in Britain in order to engage with, and strengthen Irish identities and are also keenly aware of the role such media plays in passing on those identities to the next generation. Both groups articulate their Irishness with increased confidence in Britain due to knowledge and experience of Irish and Irish-themed media content. The implications of these findings, the contribution they make to media studies and how they might inform future research is also discussed with a particular emphasis on the continuities between different migrant generations.
NUI Galway
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland