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MIC academics launch two major social science publications

26 June 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Hynes
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MIC academics launch two major social science publications

Justice Catherine McGuinness visited Mary Immaculate College recently to launch publications produced by two MIC Academics, Dr Amy Healy and Prof. Michael Breen.  The publications are based largely on the European Social Survey (ESS), for which MIC is responsible for the current round of the Survey in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch Prof. Eugene Wall, President (Acting) of MIC, welcomed Justice McGuinness to the College and paid special tribute to the two authors, complimenting them on the high quality of their publications and their ongoing research.  Professor Michael Healy, Vice President for Research at MIC, spoke about the significance of the College’s growing research output and noted the particular importance of the European Social Survey, which has operated since 2001 and provides extensive data on social attitudes, behaviour and value systems across almost 30 European countries. In recognition of its value the ESS was awarded the prestigious Descartes prize for research and the status of an ERIC (European Research Information Consortium). 

Ireland has participated in all eight rounds of the ESS since 2001. More recently the Irish Research Council (IRC) awarded the contract for the management of the current round to Mary Immaculate College with Dr Brendan O’Keefe, from MIC’s Geography Department, and Dr Siobhán Howard, from the Department of Psychology, appointed joint National Coordinators for the ESS.

Speaking at the launch Dr Howard spoke about the scale, extent and richness of the ESS data which frequently informs policy-makers and decision-takers. With the current round of research involving over 2,500 interviews, Dr Howard acknowledged the on-going support of the IRC and the collaboration between MIC and Amárach Research, which is the fieldwork agency responsible for data collection. 

Also speaking at the launch was author Dr Amy Healy who stressed the value of the ESS dataset in respect of enabling an analysis of social change over time.  This theme was taken-up by Prof. Breen, who reported that the ESS now has over 100,000 registered users and that two-thirds of ESS-related publications utilise Irish data.

In launching the two publications, Justice Catherine McGuinness warmly congratulated the authors and all those involved with the ESS, noting the high quality of the data, the reliability of the evidence they present and the merits of further promoting the ESS as basis for social and political dialogue.  According to Justice McGuiness “the evidence presented in both books is working itself out all around us.”; noting how the books record the social impacts of the European financial crisis, and how peoples’ lives have been affected. 

Demonstrating the breadth of data investigated Justice McGuinness spoke about some of the trends which had stood out to her in reading the publications. In relation to the Irish findings she welcomed the data on the enhanced role fathers play in childcare and family life. As a former member of Seanad Éireann, she noted with regret the ESS data outputs that demonstrate declining confidence in the political system and falling levels of trust in politicians.  Justice McGuinness welcomed the presentation of data on active advocacy on the parts of older people and the role of communities in addressing social exclusion.  Referring specifically to the ESS data on value systems, Justice McGuinness spoke about the importance of cherishing values associated with respect for human life and dignity.  She stressed the importance of such values in the context of ongoing conflicts in The Ukraine and The Middle East, and the need for us in Europe to see ourselves as belonging to a global humanity.

Changing Values, Attitudes and Behaviours in Ireland – edited by Amy Erbe Healy and Michael Breen
Values and Identities in Europe – Evidence from the European Social Survey – edited by Michael Breen. 



Pictured above (L-R) Prof. Michael Breen; Justice Catherine McGuinness and Dr Amy Healy.




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