I am a sociologist with an insatiable curiosity about the world around me. These interests have been indulged in my studies in sociology, geography and development studies.
My research interests have been on contemporary Ireland, globalisation processes, feminism, social movements, community and rural change. My MA was on women and Islam. I received my PhD in sociology in 2000, and my dissertation was a detailed examination of the implementation of EU agri-environmental policy in Ireland.
I worked as a lecturer in sociology at NUI Cork and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) for many years. From 1992-2007, I taught sociology courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels on all of the following: Irish society, social movements, the family, the environment, agriculture, food and rural society, development, globalisation, women’s work, and research methodologies. My publications have been in the areas of development studies, sociology of work, rural sociology and agriculture, Irish social change and gender and environmental issues.
I continue to write and conduct research. One of my recent projects was a volunteering stint in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in India. The result of the research I conducted on this trip was a large-format publication on the work of the Irish charity, the Hope Foundation, which was used as a fundraiser for the charity. I was very proud to be associated with the work of this deeply ethical and worthy organisation.
I regularly contribute to Irish media debates on social change in newspapers, on radio and very occasionally, on television. My anarchist life partner and husband is Jim MacLaughlin, PhD, political geographer and social scientist. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org His research has spanned the areas of political science, ethnic conflict, theories of nationalism, maritime history, Irish Travellers and European gypsies. His most recent work is on anarchist political philosophy, especially the contribution of Peter Kropotkin.
A major passion in my life has been and continues to be travel. Both with Jim, my trusty travelling companion, and alone, I have spent time in India, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as various European countries. Nothing makes me happier than arriving into a big new city and negotiating my way through its complexities. I am also a keen amateur photographer, whose enthusiasm far surpasses her technical abilities. I particularly adore Spanish culture (apart, obviously, from the embarrassing abomination that is bull fighting) and am working hard on elevating my level of Spanish to a reasonably advanced level so that I can become the new Laurie Lee.
My most recent book, Life at Full Tilt is an edited collection of the work of Dervla Murphy, esteemed Irish travel writer and a dear friend. This book is an anthology of extracts from all of her travel writing, produced over seven decades.
WHAT THEY SAY:
Praise for Life At Full Tilt (2023)
'In a flow of lovingly selected passages, this beguiling anthology captures the heart of its subject: one of the most remarkable travellers of her time.'
'Murphy lit the way for all of us. This sparkling volume is an apt memorial - the very best of Dervla. A fine selection, and a book to cherish and relish.'
'Dervla Murphy was the leading travel writer of her generation, combining an intense curiosity about the lives of ordinary folk with a complete disregard for her own comfort. In this skilful selection of extracts, Ethel Crowley has chosen the most readable, eye-opening and fascinating pieces that highlight the character of this extraordinary woman.'
'Crowley's edition of selected writings by Dervla Murphy will bring the curiosity, humanity, energy, wit and fearlessness of Murphy to a new generation of readers.'
Barry Houlihan, Irish Times
'It is not easy for anyone to capture Dervla Murphy's essence between the covers of one book but Cork sociologist Ethel Crowley does a fine job in this anthology of the late lamented travel writer's work.'
Maeve Brennan, Irish Examiner
Praise for Your Place or Mine? (2013)
“Crowley uses an exciting, innovative approach to identify and describe the cultural transformations of contemporary Ireland. Mixing personal memories with sociologically informed debate, she provides an insightful and imaginative explanation of how Ireland has combined the local with the global”.
Prof. Tom Inglis, School of Sociology, University College Dublin.
This book makes a substantial contribution to understanding the changing nature of Irish society. It provides a fresh and distinctive approach to the subject by combining sociological perspectives and personal reflections. The result is a unique insight on the interconnections between identity and place and a stimulating book that deserves to be read by a wide audience.
Chris Curtin, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway.
Praise for Daring to Dream (2010)
“This is a book of superbly researched words and pictures of the Hope Foundation’s mighty works with Kolkata’s slum children, getting beyond the clichés with a keen, scientific eye and hefty doses of realism”.
Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times.
“This is an insightful exploration of what life is like for the poorest of the poor in one of the most populated urban landscapes in the world”.
Jennifer May, The Big Issue.
Praise for Land Matters: Power Struggles in Rural Ireland (2006)
“A landmark study…we could hardly ask for a better introduction to contemporary rural Ireland, with all of its subtleties and contradictions”.
Dr. Chris Eipper, Dept. of Anthropology, LaTrobe University, Australia.
“In this brave and significant book, Ethel Crowley investigates the social and psychological changes in rural Ireland since accession to the EEC. …She brings a sociological scalpel to policies, structures and directives in a way that lays them open to the light: for sheer readable information and reference, her book is invaluable. It is its radicalism, however, that makes it memorable”.
Michael Viney, Irish Times.
PUBLICATIONS TO DATE:
(2023) Crowley, Ethel (ed.) Life at Full Tilt: The Selected Writings of Dervla Murphy Eland Books
(2013) Crowley, Ethel Your Place or Mine? Identity and Belonging in 21st Century Ireland Dublin; Orpen Press.
Description of Your Place or Mine?
“Where are you from?” This is usually the first question one is asked in Irish conversations. What does this even mean anymore, in this intensely globalised era of instant communications on Skype, Twitter and Facebook? Distance between real places apparently matters less and less, so does that mean that the places and communities in which we live do not matter as much to us anymore?
This book, Your Place or Mine?, is a set of reflections on finding and understanding one’s place in the world. It begins by addressing the themes of home, family and community. I integrate personal stories from my own background to illustrate my discussion. I argue that social life has changed almost beyond recognition in this regard, with many old taboos abolished forever. Sexual identities are no longer shrouded in a culture of shame, yet Irish society still cannot realistically be described as liberal.
Our communities have become much more multicultural since the relatively recent increase in immigration. Also, emigration is once again a hot topic, but the pain it brings to loved ones at home is apparently somewhat soothed by the use of computer technology. The forms of cultural hybridity created by migration flows between countries are endlessly fascinating, from the anarchic music of the Pogues to Chinese children with Cavan accents.
I have revealed four different types of cosmopolitanism and I argue for a voluntary active form of it, where the local population is culturally generous and engaged with the social difference in their midst. I go into detail on some key individuals, from Ireland and beyond, who have dedicated their lives to breaking down cultural barriers and increasing global understanding. Examples are Dervla Murphy, the veteran travel writer, and Maureen Forrest, the founder of the Hope Foundation.
Your Place or Mine? is sometimes playful, sometimes deeply serious, but always thought provoking. It is derived from many years of researching, writing and teaching on social change. It is for people who want to actively engage with their communities, as well as the broader society. Its goal is to help make better citizens of all of us, helping us to think about, really think about, our place in the world and perhaps, just perhaps, how we can make it a little bit better.
This book was released the same week as my husband, Jim MacLaughlin’s book ‘The Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of County Donegal’ Cork; Cork University Press.
(2010) Crowley, Ethel Daring to Dream: The Work of the Hope Foundation in India Cork; Hope Foundation.
(2006) Crowley, Ethel Land Matters: Power Struggles in Rural Ireland Dublin; Lilliput Press.
(1997) Crowley,Ethel & MacLaughlin,Jim (eds.) Under the Belly of the Tiger: Class, Race, Identity and Culture in the Global Ireland
Dublin; Irish Reporter Publications.
Articles and Book Chapters:
(2014) “Feeling at Home in Contemporary Ireland in Tom Inglis (ed.) Are the Irish Different? Manchester; Manchester University Press.
(2011) “Le Savoir, Enjeu D’une Lutte de Pouvoir Entre L’agriculteur et le Scientifique” Ethnologie Française No.2 avril.
(2004) “Selling Regional Identity: The Case of Fuchsia Brands” in Michel Peillon & Mary Corcoran (eds.) Place and Non-Place: The Reconfiguration of Ireland Dublin; IPA.
(2004) “Local Exchange Trading Systems: Globalising Rural Communities” (Discussion Papers Series, Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS), Trinity College Dublin.
(2003) ‘The Evolution of the Common Agricultural Policy and Social Differentiation in Rural Ireland’, The Economic and Social Review, 23,1 pp. 65-86.
(1997)“Finding Myself at a Cultural Crossroads: An Interview with Micheal Ó Suilleabhain” in Crowley,Ethel & MacLaughlin,Jim (eds.) Under the Belly of the Tiger: Class, Race, Identity and Culture in the Global Ireland Dublin; Irish Reporter Publications.
(1997)"An Irish Matrilineal Story: A Century of Change" in Sizoo, Edith (ed.) Women’s Lifeworlds: Women’s Narratives on Shaping their Realities London; Routledge.
(1997)“Making A Difference? Female Employment and Multinationals in the Republic of Ireland” in M.Leonard & A.Byrne (eds.) Women and Irish Society: A Sociological Reader Belfast; Beyond the Pale Publications.
(1995)"Allah's Daughters: Women in the Muslim Arab World" Irish Reporter No.16.
(1994)"The Roles They Are A-Changing?" Irish Reporter No.14.
(1993)"'Factory Girls': The Implications of Multinational Investment for Female Employment in Ireland" European Society for Irish Studies Regional Studies Series Vol.1 No.1.
(1991)"Third World Women and the Inadequacies of Western Feminism" Trocaire Development Review
I have written many articles for Irish newspapers over the years, covering themes in Irish society as well as my travels in India, the Middle East and Latin America. Here are some examples:
2023 Irish Times 'Dervla Murphy's Irish Times: Seven decades of astute observations and witty writing' May 22.