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'On the Perimeter of the Lawful': Enduring Illegality in the Irish Family Planning Movement, 1972-1985

Cloatre, Emilie, Enright, Mairead (2017) 'On the Perimeter of the Lawful': Enduring Illegality in the Irish Family Planning Movement, 1972-1985. Journal of Law and Society, 44 (4). pp. 471-500. ISSN 0263-323X. E-ISSN 1467-6478. (doi:10.1111/jols.12055) (KAR id:63220)


Between 1935 and 1985, Irish law criminalised the sale and importation of condoms. Activists established illegal markets to challenge the law and alleviate its social consequences. They distributed condoms through postal services, shops, stalls, clinics and machines. Though they largely operated in the open, their activities attracted little direct punishment from the state, and they were able to build a stable network of medical and commercial family planning services. We use 30 interviews conducted with former activists to explore this history. In doing so, we also examine the limits of ‘illegality’ in describing acts of everyday resistance to law. We argue that the boundaries between legal and illegal, in the discourses and practices of those who sought actors to challenge the state, were shifting and uncertain. In turn, we revisit ‘illegality’, characterizing it as an assemblage of varying selectively-performed political practices, shaped by complex choreographies of negotiation between state and non-state actors.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/jols.12055
Uncontrolled keywords: family planning; Irish law
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Emilie Cloatre
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 08:58 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 13:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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