Pregnant with risk: biopolitics, neoliberalism and the 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum

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This article augments and elaborates on existing research conducted on the 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum by outlining the role played by neoliberal rationalities in shaping discourses crucial to initiating the Referendum and securing a yes vote. The article employs Michel Foucault’s theory of biopolitics alongside various media sources and existing research in order to outline and analyse how the figure of the asylum seeker came to be constructed and understood as unpredictable, un-securable and as such incompatible with dominant neoliberal conceptions of prosperity. In making its case, the article draws upon discourses articulated by key public and political figures to highlight how asylum seekers in Ireland were constructed as a drain on resources and a risk to prosperity in order to legitimise their exclusion and reconstitute the Irish population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-588
Number of pages20
JournalIrish Political Studies
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Oct 2018


  • 2004 Irish Citizenship Referendum
  • asylum seeker
  • biopolitics
  • Foucault
  • neoliberalism
  • risk


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