This article analyses the rise of the Irish theme bar in Britain during the last decade as an example of cultural commodification in the context of Late Capitalism. The paper is also designed to examine the form such bars have taken and suggests that this process represents an example of the reification and consumption of an ethnic identity through a system of signification. The article begins by exploring the emergence of a 'night-time economy' in the 'post-industrial city' as the material context for the commodification of Irishness in the form of the theme bar. It then traces the development and spread of such theme bars from the early 1990s onward. The relationship between the growth of such bars and the advertising campaigns and marketing strategies of a number of major brewing companies will also be viewed. The nature of long-established images of Irish people in general and of the Irish migrant community in Britain in particular will also be discussed as an important context for the symbolic representations of the Irish theme bar. Ultimately the paper will argue that an essentialised conception of an imagined Irish ethnic identity is represented in such theme bars through this pool of pre-existent signs and symbols. In addition, the paper will suggest that such signs and symbols are the means by which cultural practices often closely associated with the Irish migrant community in particular are viewed, commodified and consumed.
|Journal||Irish Journal of Sociology|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|