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P. O’Leary, ‘Networking Respectability: class, gender and ethnicity among the Irish in south Wales’ Immigrants & Minorities 23:2-3 (2005) 255-275.

In this article O’Leary discusses ways that individuals are viewed by society and how class, gender and identity can all play a part in this. He discusses respectable men’s societies and how they would help men become more respectable if they attended these societies. He focuses on the Irish and how they were viewed in society. He mentions that they were drunk and prone to wild and indecent behaviour, therefore, society viewed them as not respectable which would mean that they would not be allowed to become a member of a respectable society. He also discusses that the Irish were not respectable as many of them depended on parish relief to get by. He notes that any man who can send his wife begging is not respectable, as men should be able to support their family.

He discusses how living in certain areas were more respectable than other areas and that respectability was all about males being able to provide for their family. O’Leary discusses traditional roles where men go out to work and the wife was able to stay home and look after the children and keep the house in order. Respectable men were the breadwinner. This was something that the Irish did not do.

He then continues on by discussing friendly societies, these were set up for Irishmen so that they were able to learn organisation skills and other skills necessary to be viewed as respectable in society. These friendly societies reinforced the culture of the male being the breadwinner in the family.

The article then discusses parades and the way that the Irish were dressed on parade day would fit in with societies ideal of respectability. The children involved in the parades were often from the poorest parts of town but when they were in their parade clothes nobody would know their social class as these clothes were not their typical daily clothes.

He ends the article by stating that these societies were a great opportunity to help the Irish integrate with others. They are also there for the Irish to desire a better life and ward-off poverty.

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