This paper examines how Irish elite schools negotiate change and maintain their legitimacy in times of economic turmoil and rising social inequality. The paper argues that they have not bowed before the demands of democratisation or economic globalisation. Instead they continue to maintain a high level of social closure and control diversity rather than adapt to it. Moral character acts as a principle of distinction and legitimation as these schools pose as the moral vanguards of the nation, in a national context where the economic crisis is commonly blamed on ‘greed’ and moral corruption. Their discourse is based on the defence of a certain social and moral order, somehow at odds with the dominant neoliberal ideology, but consistent with a static view of society and an aristocratic conception of leadership, which their students internalise.
- elite education
- moral character