Research Interests

Political ideologies; Party Politics; Libertarianism

Background & Qualification

B.A. Modern History & Ancient Classics NUI Maynooth 2005; M.A. International Relations DCU 2014

Doctoral Research

How much liberty is there in libertarianism? A critical look at libertarian ideology and politics

Research Overview

Libertarianism is an ideology that supports one or more of the following positions: 1) freedom defined as non-interference 2) inviolable property rights and 3) government limited to defending property rights and self-ownership. This research views libertarianism’s counter hegemonic positions on issues like the military-industrial complex, the war on terror, the socialization of debt and corporate welfare as attempts to address the worst contradictions in actually existing free-market liberalism; while still protecting the capitalist mode of production.

The main hypothesis is inspired by a historical materialist reading of an emerging ideology, which views changes to the forces of production as the primary driver of ideological change. This hypothesis claims that repeated crises in the capitalist system brought about by de-industrialisation (economic liberalism) has led an intellectual elite in right-wing parties to embrace a more libertarian worldview. Therefore increased post-industrial development, with social liberalism as a key intervening variable (as party elites seek to adapt their message to the dominant social norms of the Global North), leads to a greater presence of libertarian ideology within right-wing party identity.

The proposed research will comprise of three stages. Stage one will be a general critique of libertarian thought, providing a review of the history, typologies and key concepts within libertarianism. Stage two will consist of a quantitative analysis which will use descriptive statistics to determine if libertarian influence has become more prevalent within the right-wing parties of the Global North. It will then see if this growth can be linked to greater levels of economic and social liberalism within the parties’ host nations. Stage three will include a comparative case study which will be largely theory testing, assessing the main hypothesis linking post-industrial development to the growth of libertarianism within the elites of right-wing parties.

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