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Activism and the Academy in Ireland: A Bridge for Social Justice


This article is concerned with the working relationships between progressive academics, students, left activists, and trade unionists in Ireland, and with the apparent division between theory-led and action-led perspectives. We reflect on our efforts to draw progressive forces in Ireland together through a number of initiatives: reading groups, conferences, educational seminars, workshops, the publication of a quarterly paper, and the organization of precarious workers in higher education. We argue that although activism and academia are sometimes treated as separate spheres, there are spaces for academia in activism and for activism in academia. Finding and filling those spaces means resisting efforts to limit academia to interpreting the world, and finding ways to demonstrate the emancipatory potential of education among activists whose time is taken up with struggling against immediate structural inequalities and attempting to mobilize people into a political force. We argue that scholar-activists should play an important role helping to assemble the collective resources of the working class, as well as organising for longer-term social transformation. We call on scholar-activists to collaborate in constructing a counter-hegemonic narrative and developing a collective strategy for social justice.

Link to full article (pdf)

Journal Studies in Social Justice