Public houses in Ireland: A genuine ‘Third Place’? A case study of pubs and public drinking in the North West of Ireland.
There is considerable interest in alcohol in Irish society, yet minimal sociological understanding of its consumption, particularly of the sites where most drinking is done: the country’s 8,750 pubs. Despite widespread public discussion on the role of the pub, there is scant social science evidence to better inform debate.
Pubs are central to Irish community and are key site of social interaction. But the industry has been changing: liberalisation licensing laws the rise of the ‘superpub’; themed bars and increased restriction on access. We know little of the social effects of these changes.
American sociologist Ray Oldenburg has argued that ‘third places’ (neither workplace nor home) are crucial to the maintenance of the community and the enhancement of social capital. The pub is the archetypical third place, but Oldenburg is concerned that modern pubs are less able to provide this vital function.
The Research Team
Dr. Perry Share Research Supervisor Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Ms. Gwendolyn Scarbrough Research Student Department of Business & Humanities, IT Sligo.
Aims and Objectives of the proposed programme of research.
The project aims to test Oldenburg’s claim in an Irish context: to establish the role of the pub in the community; the nature of interaction within pubs; how public drinking is shaped by social structure; key trends in the pub industry; and whether puns operate as ‘third places’. It is also the aim of the research to increase the social scientific understanding of pubs and to access their importance in Irish social life.
The research will largely be ethnographic: it will collect qualitative data from a sample of pubs in the North West, based on interviews, close observation and documentary analysis. This will be supported by historical research and the collation of existing statistical data in relation to the licensed trade.