Asymmetric engagement

The Community and Voluntary Pillar in Irish social partnership

By Joe Larragy

Asymmetric engagement


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8650-2
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: August 2014
  • BIC Category: Sociology, Society & culture: general, Charities, voluntary services & philanthropy, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Volunteer Work, Ireland, Society & social sciences / Society & culture: general
  • Series: Irish Society


This book focuses on one of the most innovative aspects of Irish social partnership, the Community and Voluntary Pillar. It is the most thorough account of the dynamics of the Pillar to date and tackles the weaknesses in existing perspectives. Through the lens of asymmetric engagement, Larragy captures the elusive ways in which small organisations may achieve some real change, suffer setbacks and periods in the doldrums, and still come back for more. Against the warp and weft of broader political and economic dynamics, and shifts in the political sentiment of the demos, the book identifies windows of opportunity for organisations acting as policy entrepreneurs.

This volume will address a key gap in the literature on Irish political studies, governance institutions and social policy. Written in a clear and lively style, this is a wonderful resource and should be an essential text for students.


A fascinating, insightful and important book: applying both a thorough empirical approach and a sophisticated theoretical framework to the community and voluntary pillar of Irish social partnership, Dr Larragy has advanced an utterly new conceptual lens with which to study the successes and shortcomings of community and voluntary groups as political and policy influencers

A very important contribution to the understanding of civil society in Ireland.Its case studies bring a unique insight into Irish governance and understanding of 'citizenship from below'. The scholarship is superb. It should be widely read.

This is an in-depth but accessible book that documents an important part of the history of the relationship between the Irish state and civil society, it does so charmingly often coining eloquent phrases. The book makes a substantial contribution to the development of theoretical frameworks for explaining the experience of Irish community and voluntary organisations and raises questions that remain deeply relevant.


1. Introduction
2. Interpretations of Irish social partnership
3. Associations, movements, governance and power
4. A case study: rationale, scope and key concepts
5. The Community and Voluntary Pillar: an overview
6. Reversal of fortune: the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed
7. Community or demos? The Community Workers' Co-operative
8. Superior tactics? The Conference of Religious in Ireland (Justice Commission)
9. Multi-tasking: the National Women's Council of Ireland
10. Asymmetric engagement


Joe Larragy is Lecturer in Social Policy at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth

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