Tory Islanders - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. No social classes or other differentiations of status exist on the island. The professionals are Respected but they have no special privileges. The acknowledged "ancient" families—Duggans, Doohans, and Rogers—have some status, but no special benefits. The islanders are individualists but will work together for common aims. Hauling in boats is a community activity.

Political Organization. Official authority emanates from the parish, the county, and ultimately the Dublin government. This sits lightly on the islanders. The islanders vote in local and national elections, and since they hold a block of votes in a marginal constituency, they are able to command some patronage. Otherwise the island is self-governing. In the past there was a "king" ( an Riogh ), a descendant of the old Brehon lawgivers, who arbitrated disputes and supervised the drawing of lots for the shore division.

Social Control. This is purely informal, with most discipline occuring within families. The curate will attempt to exert influence and will be listened to up to a point. The power of custom ( beas ) is strong, and often quoted. The wise counsel of the old is the strongest force for social control.

Conflict. Conflict over inheritance is by far the most Serious form. Most conflict is individual or between families, and long-standing quarrels occasionally break out into open fighting. This is inevitably between unmarried male protagonists and is mitigated by the intervention of relatives who restrain the fighters, and mediators who attempt reconciliation.


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