TCD Host Research Symposium on ‘Employment and the Crisis: Work, Migration, Unemployment’

Posted on: 14 March 2011

A research symposium entitled Employment and the Crisis: Work, Migration, Unemployment took place in Trinity College Dublin’s Institute for International Integration Studies recently aimed at bringing together ongoing research on employment, unemployment, inequality and living conditions in Ireland today.

The Irish crisis has been in train for over two years and is widely perceived as not just an economic crisis, but a political, social and even moral one.  What is happening, why did it happen and what solutions exist?  Up to now the debate has been dominated by economists, however as the political crisis deepens, there have been a few welcome contributions from political scientists and contemporary historians.  This research symposium placed the Irish experience in some comparative context and aimed to stimulate more research on the topic. 

The programme featured both Irish and international speakers including:

  • Head of School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Professor James Wickham who spoke on Emigration Again – Ireland 1980s, Poland 2000s, Ireland 2010s.  His talk questioned the current feelings about emigration and explored how during the Celtic Tiger years Polish immigration to Ireland showed features that are now common across Europe.
  • Professor of Public Policy in the School of Applied Social Science at UCD, Brian Nolan, and Research Officer at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Bertrand Maître, addressed Poverty and Inequality in the Crisis.  Their talk gave an overview of the main trends in income inequality and poverty up to the crisis including which groups benefited most from the period of growth, before focusing on the immediate impact of the crash, highlighting the specific groups of the population that are now most exposed to increasing vulnerability.
  • Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Richard Hyman delivered a talk titled Trade Unions, Industrial Relations and the Crisis – The European Context.  This talk addressed the fact that though there are some parallels with previous crises, there are also important differences, hence there are no road maps for the industrial relations outcomes.  Furthermore, as the austerity measures bite, consensual solutions seem far less attainable.
  • Professor of Work, Industrial and Economic Sociology at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Klaus Dörre, deliver a talk titled Precarious Work – Consequences for German Trade Unions. The new regime of labour market policy aims at fighting unemployment by increasing the zone of vulnerable, unprotected and precarious employment.  In this talk, Prof Dörre discussed unions’ attempts to organise precarious workers and new forms of inclusive interest representation.   

The symposium was organised by the TCD Policy Institute and the TCD Employment Research Centre in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Institute.  Additional information on the symposium can be found on TCD’s Policy Institute website