The interplay between national and transnational capital in the education of the Irish elites.

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper


This paper explores the apparent paradox between Ireland’s economic globalisation strategy and the relatively discreet promotion of international cultural capital and mobility in both its second-level elite schools and its higher education sector. Ireland’s international education policy is largely dominated by short-term strategic goals aimed at generating revenue, in line with the rampant commercialisation of the sector.
Unsurprisingly, third-level student mobility remains the preserve of a privileged minority but the neighbouring (and culturally similar) UK is by far the preferred destination and strategies of distinction are not easily discernible in these mobility patterns. In comparison to the third-level sector, the second-level sector – where elite institutions are distinctly visible – is still attached to a form of cosmopolitan cultural capital partly informed by the European humanist tradition. However it is largely overshadowed by other principles of distinction based on social and moral capital and by the continued primacy of the national over the cosmopolitan/international in the (overlapping) national and international fields
of power. The national is not devalued by those who identify as the global Irish elite; instead it is deployed strategically in international business settings where Irish habitus and Irish cultural capital are perceived as carrying more symbolic power and as being more valuable and profitable resources than the cosmopolitan capital and mind-set cultivated in more traditional elite circles. This may be due to its proximity to American business culture, to the strategic role of the Irish diaspora in bridging the national and international and to the increasingly aggressive marketing of the Irish habitus and culture. In both discourse and policy, the national interest and the advancing of global capitalism
are inextricably tied; key national players and those identifying as the global Irish elite have a strong commonality of interests cemented both by a belief in the neoliberal ideology and by their cultural identification to Ireland. This paper does not argue that international capital is side-lined entirely but calls for an interrogation of its nature and uses and highlights the need for further research into international mobility strategies in Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherCentre européen de sociologie et de science politique
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'The interplay between national and transnational capital in the education of the Irish elites.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this