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Mapping Processes of Policy Change in Contemporary European Political Economies: The Irish Case



This article engages with debates about the trajectory of contemporary European political economies, emphasising in particular the need to map processes of policy change over time (by placing contemporary developments in historical perspective) and space (by considering a variety of policy areas). The article then explores these issues with respect to the Irish case. Placing more recent developments within historical perspective, it argues that the trajectory of the Irish state is not best characterised in terms of a shift from one state form (the ‘activist state’) to another (‘the competition state’). Rather, the path of Irish economic and social policy has been both highly complex and (at times) contradictory, so that change is best characterised in terms of the ebb and flow of tendencies and counter-tendencies rather than in terms of a shift between state forms.

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