Localisation of the fast food industry in Ireland
To explore the extent to which McDonalds has become detached or divorced from its American roots and has become a familiar or ‘local institution for an entire affluent consumer generation in Ireland.
The Research Team
Dr. Perry Share Principal Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo.
Mr. Declan Flanagan Research Student Department of Business & Humanities, IT Sligo.
Ireland has moved from an economy based on agriculturalism towards one based on urbanisation, industrialisation, skills and qualifications. Consumption and its administration have arguably become the dominant mode of social relations. Socio-cultural indicators (e.g. the emergence of hi-tech industries; growth in disposable income; professionalism of certain manual trades) suggests that Ireland has moved into the contemporary globalised economy.
This transition has been accompanied by a ‘pseudo -cosmopolitanism’: a modernist discourse of almost total submission to international capitalism. This reflect the fragmentation of the link between territorial cohesiveness and economic sovereignty and the virtual abandonment of previous modes of nationally-directed economic allegiance in favour of economic transnationalism.
In the realm of popular culture to is no longer possible to distinguish the ‘local’ and the ‘foreign’. Ireland has entered the realm of transnationalism of popular culture: a condition by which people, commodities and ideas literally cross/transgress national boundaries. McDonalds restaurants chain is the quintessential transnational corporation and has become part of our ‘local culture’ since the company arrived in Ireland in 1979.
Localisation is not a one way process: the corporation has had to adopt in order to flourish in new settings. I want to demonstrate to what extent consumers, with the co-operation and encouragement of McDonalds management, have transformed city centre McDonalds restaurants into leisure centres, after school social clubs and meeting halls. I want to pay special attention of the effects of these activities on family education and socialism; and to examine the rise of a child centred consumer culture.
Earlier studies of the fast food industry have emphasised production and have focused on labour or management. The question I wish to pose include:
What are the cultural impressions of the phenomenal success of the Irish fast food industry ?
Does the introduction of American fast food undermine local cuisines ?
Does it, as some critics fear, presage a homogeneous, global culture ?
I aim to use theories and techniques of sociology and ethnography to examine the motivations and behaviour of people conducting their daily lives. I have decided to use Galway city as a case study. I aim to downsize the ‘chronotype’ – a term used to conceptualise the myth of the west, observing that peripheries are represented as beyond time and space. The west of Ireland has become the ‘Celtic Fringe’, a transnational/transitional zone between the historical reality of the mainland (east of the Shannon) and the eternal dreamscape of a ocean, a kind of rural nostalgia that survives to the present day.