Home > ‘What are we about?’ An organizational study of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in present-day Ireland.

Fagan, Dermot and Butler, Shane (2011) ‘What are we about?’ An organizational study of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in present-day Ireland. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy, 18, (4), pp. 261-269. https://doi.org/10.3109/09687637.2011.556684.

The aim of this study was to explore the current functioning of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA), Ireland’s largest and best known temperance movement which has been in existence since 1898. Although initially intended as a small and relatively elitist organization, the PTAA succeeded in attracting and retaining large numbers of members until the 1960s, when it started to go into decline against the backdrop of incremental but influential changes in both the country’s drinking habits and its religious culture. Drawing on qualitative data gathered through semi-structured interviews with the association’s leadership, the study looked at how the association understood the concept of religious temperance, how it viewed its adaptation to a radically changed external environment and how clearly it defined its aims and functions.

The findings indicate that while individual members still experience membership of the PTAA as spiritually meaningful and a source of support from like-minded Catholics, there is considerable confusion and disagreement at an organizational level as to what the overall goals of the association are. In particular, there is no consensus as to whether or how the PTAA should contribute as a stakeholder or lobbyist in relation to the drafting and implementation of national alcohol policy. It is concluded that, from an organizational perspective, the major task for the association is to clarify its primary aims so as to answer the question in this article’s title: ‘What are we about’?

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Treatment method, Rehabilitation/Recovery
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 261-269
Informa healthcare
Accession Number
HRB (Not in collection)
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