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- PublicationEveryday sentiment among unionists and nationalists in a Northern Irish town(Taylor and Francis, 2021)Unionists and nationalists remain polarized in their political choices, increasingly so since Brexit. Does this signal increasing and dangerous division? Or have the decades of peace and agreed institutions changed the tenor of discussion in Northern Ireland? In this article, we examine the ways community relations, political division and contention are discussed by focusing on the expression of everyday sentiment among unionists and nationalists in a mixed Northern Irish town. Theoretically, it has been argued that positive sentiment raises hopes for compromise and leaves room for discussion, while negative sentiment closes off deliberation and compromise. Based on interviews, we first conduct a sentiment analysis that identifies positive versus negative sentiment expressed by the respondents, focusing on themes addressing Irish unity, unionism, Brexit, as well as personal and community life. The analysis shows that, on average, interviewees talk more positively than negatively about each theme. We then conduct a qualitative discourse analysis to investigate how positive and negative sentiment are expressed by unionist and nationalist respondents. We find that respondents name and elaborate on the political issues in contention while lowering the emotional valence of discussion. This suggests much more room for deliberation and compromise than is usually assumed.
23Scopus© Citations 5
- PublicationAnalyzing ethnographic interviews: Three studies on terrorism and nonviolent resistance(SAGE Publications, 2021-03)This article describes three analyses of ethnographic interviews conducted with violent and nonviolent political activists. The findings show that the deliberations of violent and nonviolent activists focus on state violence and rational choice calculations (Studies I and II), while nonviolent activists moreover consider perceptions of themselves and state actors, among other factors (Study II). In a highly repressive setting, nonviolent activists choose individual over collective resistance (Study III). By revealing how violent and nonviolent activists reason about their behaviour, the findings complement statistical analyses of datasets on external factors, such as economic conditions, political institutions, social networks or political events. Such datasets are typically readily available or can be constructed from publicly available data, while interview transcripts are more time-consuming to assemble. Furthermore, replicable quantitative methods are not straightforwardly applied to qualitative interviews. This article instead applies Spradley’s ethnographic analysis (Study I) and Corbin and Strauss’s grounded theory (Studies II and III) to examine interview transcripts. In addition to the substantive findings, the analyses make a methodological contribution to qualitative studies of interviews by systematically identifying each factor addressed by an interview transcript.
17Scopus© Citations 1
- PublicationHow moderates make boundaries after protracted conflict. Everyday universalists, agonists, transformists and cosmopolitans in contemporary Northern Ireland(Wiley, 2022-09)This article explores how boundary making proceeds after protracted conflict has ended. Drawing on an interview and focus group study in two local areas in Northern Ireland, we identify the diverse forms of everyday boundary work amongst moderates who distance from the ethno-political blocs: everyday universalism, agonism, transformation and cosmopolitanism. Each overcomes closed exclusivist boundaries and identity oppositions, thus providing a clear contrast with the overt political contention and polarization that has followed Brexit in Northern Ireland. Our research shows the internal shape and diversity of the moderate constituency who support peace-building and a less-polarized politics. It also offers an answer to the question how such everyday openness coexists with continued political polarization. We trace the different political perspectives associated with each form of boundary making and argue that this hinders political cohesion amongst moderates.
18Scopus© Citations 1
- PublicationBelief systems and action inferences as a source of violence in the name of islam(Taylor and Francis, 2010-12-02)I draw on the belief system literature and use a cognitive mapping methodology to compare Islamists from the nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood and from the formerly violent groups al-Jihad and al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya in Egypt. Using data from in-depth interviews conducted in Egypt, I identify seven combinations of beliefs antecedent to decisions for and against violence and make three main claims. First, decisions for or against violence towards the state are only made if an individual believes that the state is violent. Second, decisions against violence are logically preceded by beliefs about the superiority of state structures to the chaos of violence, the negative consequences of revenge, the potential success of peaceful action, and the impossibility of reaching goals through violence. Third, decisions in favor of violence are logically preceded by beliefs about transformatory goals, support for violence in the local environment, and ignorance of the state's reaction to violent resistance. I conclude with brief suggestions of how the kinds of belief-chains identified may be useful for understanding and responding to narratives supporting violence in the name of Islam. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
19Scopus© Citations 5
- PublicationBeyond ethical approval: fostering ethical research practices within inter-sectoral research projects involving academic and NGO sector partners(Springer, 2019-11-11)While research and innovation collaborations between NGOs and academic organisations can create considerable synergies with positive effects for the humanitarian sector, the inter-sectoral nature of such collaborations can generate challenges due to the varying mandates, objectives and ways of working of the organisations involved. By drawing on the experiences of a 4-year project involving a consortium of academic and NGO partners, this paper outlines three broad and inter-related ethical challenges that such projects can encounter and how they can be practically negotiated. Firstly, how are the knowledge-generation requirements of such projects addressed without engaging in the mere extraction of data from participants? Secondly, how are potential risks to participants arising from their participation balanced with the need to include their voices within the research project? Finally, how are the formal requirements laid down by institutional review committees, primarily within academic organisations, to be adhered to within field contexts in which there are well-established expectations and ways of working on the part of NGO partners and beneficiaries? While these dilemmas are merely illustrative of the potential ethical dilemmas that inter-sectoral collaboration might encounter, the paper highlights that ethical dilemmas ought to be addressed reflexively by all stakeholders in order to facilitate improved collaboration and, ultimately, better quality, more relevant and more ethically informed research.