Patriarchal Figures

In this scene, patriarchy is highlighted as the 1974 South Boston Bus Boycotts were taking place (Delmont 2). In this clip, Frank Costello, a mob-boss played by Jack Nicholson, is talking about the diversity that is flooding into Boston.

As one of his roles as a patriarch is to run an ethnically homosocial group, he is angry with different groups coming into South Boston, hence his language.

The very end of the clip also displays patriarchy, as Costello walks into a small, locally owned convenience store and is immediately handed money from the owner of the store. As soon as Costello walks in, the store owner stops what he is doing and heads right over to the cashier, knowing what will happen if he doesn’t pay Costello.

This scene gives credence to one of the main roles of a patriarch, punishment or pain. As the store owner doesn’t want to face the consequences of not paying – and his facial expression says it all – he gives the money right over.



Works Cited

Delmont, Matthew. “The Lasting Legacy of the Boston Busing Crisis.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 29 Mar. 2016,

“Youtube – The Departed Opening (HD) – Jack Nicholson Monologue.” Youtube. Web 10 Dec. 2018 <

Website Map

If you are unsure of how to navigate this site, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • If you are interested in background information about Irish immigration go to the Immigration to America page.
  • If you are interested in some of the more theoretical aspects of Irish-American identity go to the Authenticity page.
  • If you are interested in examples of things that contributed to the formation of Irish-American identity go to the Gangs or the St. Patrick’s Day page.
  • If you are interested in one of the primary aspects of Irish-American identity, check out the Patriarchy page.

To go back to the main page click here.

Patriarchal Society

Gangs of New York
Taken from

Patriarchy is described as a male-dominant social system. In this system, a male acts as the head of a social group oftentimes described as a “family” (Napikoski & Lewis 1). This father-like figure is a symbol of both power and a punitive force, pleasure and pain. It is within the perceived power of a leader – or the gang that he heads – that one would join.

As Irish immigrants fled to the states, they would be met by the depredation of discrimination through nativist views. As these immigrants felt oppressed, they would often band-together in order to feel safer as a group, under one individual identity of Irish, led by a male figure.

For more information on specific patriarchal figures, click here.


Works Cited

Napikoski, Linda, and Jone Johnson Lewis. “What Is a Patriarchal Society and    How Does It Relate to Feminism?” Thoughtco., Dotdash, 3 Sept. 2018,

Photograph of film Gangs of New York. The Ace Black Blog, 6 February 2002,

Irish American Identity

Welcome to our site about Irish-American Identity! All throughout history, Ireland has sought to create an identity for themselves. After being religiously and politically oppressed by Britain, many Irish citizens immigrated to America, where they hoped for a better, more liberated life–one in which they were free to express themselves and create their own identities. Instead, they were met with adversity and blatant prejudice at every turn. Irish immigrants found it extremely difficult to assimilate with Americans, as they were often less educated and less financially stable than them. As a result, they banded together in order to create that sense of identity that they lacked.

But what exactly is Irish-American identity? It’s difficult to create an exact definition for this term because of its dynamic nature. Irish-American identity originated in various ways but is by no means set in stone. One of the methods through which this identity formed was Irish gangs. Irish gang life was founded on the basis of an authentic Irish identity in a patriarchal society. Another method through which Irish American identity was formed was through cultural rituals like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The urban landscape of New York City also played a role in the formation of Irish-American gang life and identity. However, Irish-American identity is culturally constructed and, therefore, created by people which means it is subject to change.

Why Should You Care About Irish-American Identity?

Learning about Irish-American identity, how it forms and changes, can help you reflect on your own cultural identity, whether you’re Irish-American or not. We have often taken cultural identities like this for granted and do not analyze how they have been historically formed and how they change over time. We hope that in having a greater understanding of these concepts about identity can allow people to look at cultures throughout the world in a different light, and further understand the experiences of immigrant groups and how they maintain cultural identities, under the pressure of assimilation.


For more information about us click here.

If you are unsure about how to navigate this site click here.