Thresholds of State Change : Changing British State Institutions and Practices in Northern Ireland after Direct Rule

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Title: Thresholds of State Change : Changing British State Institutions and Practices in Northern Ireland after Direct Rule
Authors: Todd, Jennifer
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Date: Oct-2014
Online since: 2015-10-10T03:00:17Z
Abstract: A long process of state-institutional change underlay the eventual swift restructuration of Northern Ireland in the 2000s.This article shows that it took a threshold form. The argument abstracts from the drama of politics within Northern Ireland in order to highlight the intrastate processes that incentivised radical change in parties and paramilitaries there and to contribute to comparative analysis of state change in conflict situations. The concept of a threshold is used in the social sciences to refer to a step or phase in a process of change, one that is difficult to pass but which, once passed, produces swift observable outcomes (Lustick, 1993, 43-46; Pierson, 2004, 83-86). Thresholds are likely to characterise state-change in conflict situations because the intensity of opposing interpretations, the embeddedness of state responses, the urgency of security imperatives and the determination of veto players tend to block incremental forms of change. Ian Lustick (1993, 2001) has argued that in cases of ‘state contraction’ a long slow process of overcoming internal ‘ideological’ and ‘regime’ (military) thresholds precedes a swift process of boundary-change. However there has been little elaboration of these ideas for other conflict situations. This article shows a process of state threshold-crossing which affected sequentially British orientations, prioritisations and policies in Northern Ireland. It uses new evidence in the form of over 70 elite interviews with senior British and Irish politicians and officials who made, influenced and closely observed the process.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Journal: Political Studies
Volume: 62
Issue: 3
Start page: 522
End page: 538
Copyright (published version): 2013 the Author, Political Studies, Political Studies Association
Keywords: StateThresholdNorthern IrelandInstitutional changeExclusionConflict resolution
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9248.12082
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Politics and International Relations Research Collection

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