History, structure and action in the settlement of complex conflicts: the Northern Ireland case

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Title: History, structure and action in the settlement of complex conflicts: the Northern Ireland case
Authors: Todd, Jennifer
Ruane, Joseph
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/5607
Date: 6-Feb-2014
Abstract: This article argues for a historical-structural approach to explaining conflict and settlement. It argues that the manner in which institutions function and actors pursue their ends is in part determined by slow-moving interlinked structural relationships whose logic, trajectory and effects can only be identified historically. In complex conflicts such structural configurations generate tendencies to conflict and settlement requires that they be weakened. The article elaborates this model to account for settlement in Northern Ireland. It argues that what made the difference between relative success in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and earlier failures was not short-term actor-oriented mechanisms, or even a lessening of structural inequality alone, but change in a deeper structural configuration, triggered by a change in the role of the British state. The article traces how this was taken forward, and explains why tensions continue. It contributes to debates on the role of political agency and structural constraint in complex conflicts.
Funding Details: Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Copyright (published version): 2014 Political Studies Association of Ireland
Keywords: Action;Conflict-resolution;Historical-structural model;Northern Ireland;British state;Geopolitical change
DOI: 10.1080/07907184.2013.874997
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Politics and International Relations Research Collection
Sociology Research Collection
Sociology Research Collection

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