Moffat (2010) writing in Ireland of the Illusions points to an emergent “cultural shift”, accompanying the Celtic Tiger wherein Ireland is increasingly explained as a “middle-class society”. He finds the media is complicit in this privileging of the middle-class experience wherein “what might be seen as exclusively middle-class events or experiences are projected as ‘the normal’ experience of all Irish people” conveniently sidestepping “the issue of structural social exclusion”. He cites their obsession with university enrolment issues despite the fact that chiefly it is the middle classes who attend university whereas a majority of the overall population do not attend. Therefore “middle-class expectations are being projected onto all people” (Moffat, 2010: 242). Thus they engage in legitimating their own social space while alternative experiences and social spaces are marginalised. In the media there exists no representatives for the builders; cleaners; residents of deprived inner city estates etc.
This is perhaps why I found the Guardian’s What I’m really thinking: the checkout girl article refreshing. Of course there is a high likelihood that the voice represented here is of a middle-class student. Still it proffers some minuscule semblance in mainstream media as to what the experience of lower income employment is like. Perhaps it is time this perspective was massively expanded in Ireland’s fourth estate:
Moffat J (2010) A touch of class: Ireland versus England at Croke Park. In: Share P & Corcoran MP (eds.) Ireland of the Illusions: A sociological chronicle 2007-2008. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 239-252