[This is a guest post from one of our Third Year Single Hons students. The post is about the student’s final year thesis topic.]
Third year: Thesis Time. A daunting prospect to say the least. However, this is the one element of the Degree structure that allows a student to experience independent research and the chance to gain some in-depth knowledge on a subject area of interest to them. So, I chose to investigate the role of Edenderry in the informational economy of Ireland.
Edenderry is located on the fringes of the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). This midland town has experienced dramatic population growth rates over the past decade, 29% increase between 2002 and 2006, and 18.5% between 2006 and 2011 (CSO, 2011). At present, the main route from Edenderry, R402, is being upgraded to ‘reduce journey times’ to Dublin.
Advancements in information and communication technologies (ICT) in the 1970s led to a systemic change from an industrial economy to an informational economy. Castells (2000: 77) describes an informational economy as one ‘where the productivity and competitiveness … fundamentally depend upon their capacity to generate, process, and apply efficiently knowledge-based information’. The development of the informational economy has had important spatial implications, notably an increasing concentration of economic activity in the main metropolitan areas of the world. Rural areas tend to experience difficulties in establishing a new role in the informational economy. Literature raises questions about the role of places at the fringes of metropolitan areas like the GDA. This begs the question, is Edenderry suffering from problems facing rural areas or benefiting from its location at the fringe of the GDA?
To answer I will focus on the occupational and industrial structure of Edenderry, particularly since the 1970s. The main factors influencing the town’s current role in the informational economy, population change over the years plus the town’s residents’ commuting patterns will be examined. It is possible that the data on Edenderry are too limited for a robust statistical analysis. In that case the study area will be broadened to east Offaly.
The methodology will include both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Quantitative analysis will be based on the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Population Census. The qualitative methodologies involve a desktop analysis of official policy documents, policies pertaining to the provision of ICT as well as interviews with stakeholders and state agencies. GIS maps will be used to depict the occupational structure of the town and charts will be used to denote population changes.
At this stage, I have reviewed literature pertaining to the informational economy. My thesis proposal is complete, as is the nerve-wrecking presentation. So, all that remains is data collection over next two months; interpretation and analysis up to end February 2013; produce first draft of thesis before end of March 2013; and finally, complete my thesis by 15 April 2013.