Public rituals and community power: St. Patrick's day parades in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1841-1874

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63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The development of a political strategy to address the uneven distribution of power and resources in a 19th-century American city is the focus of this paper. It is argued that public celebrations of St. Patrick's Day in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts must be seen as something more than simple expressions of Irish tradition and culture. Instead, as the literature in social history is making increasingly clear, parades and other forms of mass public ritual are better characterized as demonstrations of community power and solidarity and serve as complex commentaries on the political economy of urban-industrial social relations. In Lowell, the parades were at first used to impress both the Yankee and the Irish communities with the spectacle of Irish respectability. Ultimately they were used to press for Irish participation in republican America on specifically Irish terms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Geography Quarterly
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1989

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religious behavior
social history
political strategy
distribution of power
political economy
Social Relations
solidarity
community
participation
resource
resources
public
city
Parade
literature
press
distribution
Participation
Political Strategy
Social History

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "The development of a political strategy to address the uneven distribution of power and resources in a 19th-century American city is the focus of this paper. It is argued that public celebrations of St. Patrick's Day in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts must be seen as something more than simple expressions of Irish tradition and culture. Instead, as the literature in social history is making increasingly clear, parades and other forms of mass public ritual are better characterized as demonstrations of community power and solidarity and serve as complex commentaries on the political economy of urban-industrial social relations. In Lowell, the parades were at first used to impress both the Yankee and the Irish communities with the spectacle of Irish respectability. Ultimately they were used to press for Irish participation in republican America on specifically Irish terms.",
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