Neo-Liberal Discourse on an Edge: Communicating Political Economic Crisis in Post-2007 Ireland

24 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 7 Aug 2012

See all articles by Brendan K O'Rourke

Brendan K O'Rourke

Technological University Dublin

John Hogan

Dublin Institute of Technology

Date Written: 2012


At the center of the current political economy crisis in Europe are the geographically and economically peripheral PIG (Portugal, Ireland and Greece) countries (Totaro, 2010). In particular, Ireland, heralded as a triumph of the market during its Celtic Tiger (1987-2007) boom (see, Powell 2003), was a state where neo-liberal discourse dominated (Phelan, 2007) and yet is portrayed as a disaster for neo-liberal policies in the bust (see, Krugman, 2010). Consequently, the discourses of the economic crisis in Ireland are of wide concern to the broader political economy and our understanding of neo-liberal philosophy.

This work analyzes a number of radio interviews with a key political player in Ireland: former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan (1959-2011). The interviews are taken from a national morning news show and a chat show hosted by a well-known current affairs journalist. These discourses are significant in construction of the crisis in Ireland given the involvement of the minister, the importance of the events discussed and the prominence of the shows in Irish society. Lenihan’s tenure in Finance (2008-11) - covering the granting of a state guarantee to the Irish banks (September, 2008), the creation of a state agency to purchase "toxic" assets (September, 2009) and ultimately the EU-IMF bailout of the Irish economy (November, 2010) - was crucial in Ireland’s initial response to the crisis.

There are a variety of approaches to discourse analysis (Wetherell et al. 2001; Wodak and Meyer 2009). The method used here is one informed by the approaches of Potter and Wetherell (1987) and Fairclough (2010). Despite ontological differences, these approaches share an orientation to the text that allows analysis to draw lessons from conversation analysis and linguistic approaches to broadcast interviews (Ekström 2011; Hutchby 2006) while not ignoring insights into the more macro context in which the interaction is situated.

Keywords: discourse, crisis, neo-liberal

Suggested Citation

O'Rourke, Brendan K and Hogan, John, Neo-Liberal Discourse on an Edge: Communicating Political Economic Crisis in Post-2007 Ireland (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Brendan K O'Rourke (Contact Author)

Technological University Dublin ( email )

Aungier Street
Dublin 2, D02 HW71
+353-1-4027097 (Phone)


John Hogan

Dublin Institute of Technology ( email )

College of Business
Aungier Street (3-062)
Dublin 2

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