University of Limerick
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(Re)conceptualising perceptions of national identity consciousness in Ireland’s primary education sector

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posted on 2023-08-15, 10:46 authored by Kyla Piper

National identity consciousness is a multi-faceted and complex social construct which bridges individual and collective selfhood as an acquired and emergent identity aspect. Using an interpretivist paradigm and post-modern psychosocial-constructivist approach, this doctoral research examines the challenges of understanding expressions and perceptions of self and belonging as they relate to the construction of national identity consciousness. A conceptual framework based on epistemological and ontological underpinnings supports a greater understanding of the fluid nature, multiple perspectives and reciprocal complexities of the explicit and implicit nature of national identity consciousness. Set within an Irish educational context, I argue that as a result of the increase of global interconnectivity, understanding contemporary ‘Irishness’ has become more challenging. Cognisant of this complexity, this doctoral dissertation (re)conceptualises perspectives of national identity consciousness in an Irish context and within the field of Education. Education’s pivotal role as a formative power in society makes it a key area from which to problematise its contribution to the (re)construction, (re)education, and (re)generation of beliefs, values and concepts.

Building upon current research, using a mixed-methods design, two-tier triangulation approach, and incorporating primary, secondary, and reflexive findings, this doctoral study identifies correlations and divergences between related perceptions, understandings, conceptualisations, and practices. Perceptions of national identity consciousness from student teachers, teacher educators, primary students, and reflexive perspectives are illustrated. Analysis highlighted new emergent findings. These are discussed in the penultimate chapter, and are continually related back to the literature, to the research questions, and to the conceptual framework. This study provides an in-depth examination of how the ‘newest generation of primary teachers’, ‘those who teach them’, and ‘those who research them’ understand themselves, others, and national identity consciousness. This interpretivist research contributes new theoretical, empirical and reflexive knowledge to the field of education and adds to the discussion of national identity consciousness, belonging, and the self.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Marie Parker-Jenkins

Second supervisor

Geraldine Mooney Simmie

Department or School

  • School of Education

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