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Trinity College Dublin

Personal Information
College Photo Name Wickham, James John Rufus
Main Department Fellows Emeritii
College Title Fellow Emeritus
College Tel  
My PhD in sociology from the University of Sussex (UK) was a social history of working class politics in Weimar Germany. My early research in Ireland was on Irish industrialisation and labour market issues, especially the electronics industry. Through the Employment Research Centre within TCD Department of Sociology I have led EU-funded research projects on employment and work in contemporary Europe. My research on mobility and environmental sustainability has included studies of business air travel in Ireland and of urban transport in European cities. I have published Gridlock: Dublin's transport crisis and the future of the city (Dublin, 2006) as well as articles on European social research policy. I chaired the Trinity Immigration Initiative and after directing a project on Polish migrants in Dublin am now leading a project which compares Polish emigration in the 2000's with Irish emigration today.
Details Date
Member, Scientific Advisory Council, Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund (Germany) 2006
Member, Consultative Committee on the Local Government Reform Green Paper 2007
Member, Dublin Transportation Office Consultative Panel 2007
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Sociological Association of Ireland
European Sociological Association
British Sociological Association
Awards and Honours
Award Date
Provost's Teaching Award: Lifetime Achievement 2012
Jean Monnet ad personam professorship 1998
Fellow of Trinity College Dublin 2005
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
French Fluent Basic Medium
German Fluent Fluent Fluent
Italian Medium Basic Basic
Research Interests
Air Transportation EU Politics Employment European Union Social Policy
Gender and work Human Resource Management Immigration Industrial relations
Labour market institutions Migration Migration and Employment Public Transport
Traffic Congestion Transport Transportation Unemployment
Worker Attitudes and Technology labour migration
Research Projects
Project title Careers, Conjunctures and Consequences. The implications of Polish migration to Ireland for contemporary Irish emigration
Summary Our ‘Migrant Careers’ study suggested that Polish migration to Ireland was prototypical for other emerging European migrations – including that from Ireland today. The proposed project further develops our Qualitative Panel Study methodology to re-interview young Poles who worked in Ireland during the boom and interview a matching group of Irish graduate emigrants. We evaluate whether novel forms of migrant careers exist within the European the mobility space, the impact on migrants’ careers of two different conjunctures (bubble and recession) and finally the lasting consequences for Irish employment regulation of the periods of mass immigration and mass emigration.
Funding Agency Irish Research Council
Programme Advanced Collaborative Research Project
Type of Project Research
Date from 01/08/2012
Date to 30/09/2013
Person Months

Project title Cars, debts and public transport: urban mobility in the crisis
Summary After housing, for most people their major investment is a car. In countries such as Ireland car ownership, like home ownership, is taken as self-evidently desirable, yet the extent and form of both are massively shaped by public policy. However, cars, like houses, have to be bought. Car purchase often involves substantial debt and the expansion of car ownership is thus interwoven with the development of the financial services industry. Furthermore, motoring costs as a proportion of total household expenditure vary inversely with income. Like home ownership, car ownership is both entangled with the growth of the financial services industry and involves particular risks for low income groups; this is especially the case when some policies (e.g. limited public transport, dispersed settlement pattern) make car ownership crucial for low income groups. The final stages of the Celtic Tiger boom appear to have been an extreme case of this convergence: with a credit bubble and massive housing price inflation, home ownership, suburban sprawl, car ownership and consumer debt all expanded together. In this context the research project examines the relationship between social exclusion and mobility in an epoch of financialisation. In the current crisis it is arguable that those most threatened by new social exclusion are those most dependent on the expansion of both mobility and credit in the boom – those on first time mortgages in new suburban areas. Has the crisis created new forms of exclusion for new social groups, and if so, how does their experience compare with those of groups who already have a long term experience of social exclusion? The project will comprise case studies of two distinct suburban areas of Dublin: an established ‘working class’ area with high levels of unemployment even during the boom years, a second an area with new private sector housing constructed during the boom. It will largely use qualitative interview techniques as well as visual ethnography and existing statistical data. The project combines the research methods and concerns of the developing field of mobility studies both with the well established field of social exclusion and the new area of the financialisation of everyday life, including the role of assets and debt in social stratification
Funding Agency TCD Arts and Social Sciences Benefaction Fund
Type of Project Research
Date from 01/05/2012
Date to 30/09/2013
Person Months

Project title Migrant Careers and Aspirations
Summary Much of the debate on immigration in Ireland today is concerned with the question m of ‘integration’. However, this assumes that contemporary immigrants will in fact be staying in Ireland, even though there is considerable evidence that this is not necessarily the case. Equally, it is assumed that employers utilise migrant labour because of ‘skill shortages’, but there is no discussion of how this relates to the overall nature of employment in Irish workplaces. This project therefore studies the interaction of migrants’ and employers’ strategies. It studies the choices of both sides of the new employment relationship through analysis of individual migrants’ careers and case studies of workplaces. To tackle these issues Migrant Careers and Aspirations uses a qualitative panel study of both immigrants and workplaces, flanked by a systematic monitoring of labour market trends. Fieldwork will begin in late 2007. The research will thus follow immigrants to Ireland as they move through the labour market. It will provide the first systematic study of migrants’ careers and aspirations and how these change over time.
Funding Agency Philanthropic
Programme Trinity Immigration Initiative
Type of Project
Date from 01/10/2007
Date to 30/09/2010
Person Months 36

Project title DYNAMO
Summary Analysis of the challenges facing national employment systems within the European Union; in particular the extent to which distinctive national structures are being reproduced.
Funding Agency European Commission
Programme 6FP
Type of Project STREP
Date from
Date to
Person Months

Project title Mobile Lives
Summary Analysis of the factors generating business travel and the location of particularly travel-intensive forms of business; the implications of extensive travel for work/life balance and social involvement.
Funding Agency IIIS
Type of Project
Date from
Date to
Person Months

Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Torben Krings, Elaine Moriarty, James Wickham, Alicja Bobek, Justyna Salamoñska, New Mobilities in Europe: Polish migration to Ireland post-2004, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2013
James Wickham, Gráinne Collins, Lidia Greco and Josephine Browne, Individualization and equality: women’s careers and organizational form, Organization, 15, (2), 2008, p211 - 231
James Wickham and Alessandra Vecchi, ‘Local firms and global reach: Business air travel and the Irish software cluster , European Planning Studies, 16, (5), 2008, p693 - 710
James Wickham and Ian Bruff, Skills shortages are not always what they seem: migration and the Irish software industry, New Technology Work and Employment, 23, (1-2), 2008, p31 - 44
James Wickham, Gridlock: Dublin's transport crisis and the future of the city, Dublin, Tasc at New Island, 2006, 256pp
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Last Updated:17-SEP-2014