The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Reflections on Crisis: the role of the public intellectual

by  Mary P. CorcoranKevin Lalor
€ 10.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

July 2012

Paperback / softback

Number of pages: 118

ISBN: 9781908996060

This pocket-sized book brings together academic essays originally delivered at a Royal Irish Academy symposium held in 2008. This was the year the global financial crisis hit. This book reflects a bewilderment at the heart of Irish society as the public looked to journalists and academics for explanations and solutions to what went wrong. Broken into five essays by economists, social scientists and historians, the short volume teases out questions such as: can we think our way out of a crisis? At a time of economic collapse, do intellectuals have something to offer? Are the views of economists, novelists, playwrights, sociologists, historians, political scientists and civil servants dismissed and ignored? Is Irish society anti-intellectual? The emergence of the figure of the public intellectual in American society is considered in some detail, as the book makes a case for shared critical thinking, imagination and ideas as a basis for recovery.

This book is also available on JSTOR. For more information, institutions can visit Books at JSTOR or contact

Buy the e-book here.

About the authors

Mary P. Corcoran

Mary P. Corcoran is Professor of Sociology at Maynooth University.  A graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University, New York, her research interests lie primarily in the fields of urban sociology, public culture and the sociology of migration. The author of numerous scholarly articles and reports, Corcoran is the co-author with Perry Share and Brian Conway of A Sociology of Ireland (2012-fourth edition); co-editor with Kevin Lalor of Reflections on Crisis: the role of the public intellectual (2012); co author with Jane Gray and Michel Peillon of Suburban Affiliations: social relations in the Greater Dublin Area (2010); co-editor of Ireland of the Illusions (2010); Belongings: shaping identity in modern Ireland (2008); Uncertain Ireland (2006); Place and non-place (2004) and Ireland Unbound (2002). Corcoran’s co-edited book (with Mark O’Brien), Censorship and the Democratic State, was published in 2005.  Her earlier book, Irish Illegals: Transients between Two Societies (1993) charted the experiences of undocumented Irish people in New York City during the 1980s. A Taoiseach’s nominee to the National Economic and Social Forum, Corcoran has also served previously on the Senate of the NUI and on the Social Science Committee of the RIA. She is currently in her second term of office as a member of Maynooth University’s Governing Authority. A member of the Local Community Development Committee, South Dublin County Council, Corcoran is also a member of the Board of the Childhood Development Initiative.

Kevin Lalor

Kevin Lalor is head of the School of Languages, Law & Social Sciences at Dublin Institute of Technology. His current research interests include experiences of adolescence; youth crime and victimisation; child sexual abuse prevalence; the role of child sexual abuse in HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa; comparative perspectives on crime victimization. He is joint editor of Reflections on Crisis: the role of the public intellectual (2012).