Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • Publication
    Is religion in Northern Ireland politically significant?
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2003)
    Reducing religion to theological fundamentalism has stifled the debate about its political significance in Northern Ireland. This paper develops an integrated theoretical conception of religion as the key to illuminating the multi-dimensional role it plays in social relationships. Based on analysis of interviews conducted in 2000, it finds four main ways in which religion is socially and politically significant in Northern Ireland—as a communal marker, as a community-builder, as ideology and as theology. These roles differ amongst believers and non-believers, churchgoers and non-churchgoers and amongst Catholics and Protestants. Through exploration of religion as a fluid dimension of personal and group identity, the paper concludes that religion does not simply mark out the communal boundary, but often gives it meaning as well.
  • Publication
    No exit? Opting out of religious and ethnic group identities in Northern Ireland
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2009) ; ;
    This paper explores the experiences of people from evangelical Protestant backgrounds in Northern Ireland who have opted out of their religious identity. We are interested in how far it has been possible for people to leave their evangelical faith, and how this extends to a crossing of ethno-national, communal and political boundaries in Northern Ireland. Drawing on in-depth interviews conducted during 2007, the paper analyses how former evangelicals negotiate the formidable barriers to exit constructed by friends, family and wider society. Our aim is to understand more about how structure and agency operate in divided societies, including how individuals negotiate and ultimately establish alternative religious, ethnic and political identities in this context. We argue that most people remain constrained by the culture and social structure of division, and that alternative beliefs and identities remain unrepresented in a society still divided along ethno-religious lines. At the same time, we show how individuals creatively edit and reshape their identities within these boundaries.
  • Publication
    Everyday Evangelicals : life in a religious subculture after the Belfast Agreement
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2009) ;
    This paper examines the everyday lives of Northern Irish evangelicals since the Belfast Agreement of 1998. Drawing on more than 100 semi-structured interviews with evangelicals (conducted between 2002-2007), we explore the relationship between macro-level social and political changes and individuals’ religious change. While recognising the importance of macro-level factors in leading evangelicals to a privatisation, moderation or transformation of their faith, we argue that the importance of micro-level, subcultural factors in contributing to change has been underestimated. Thus we sketch out the main elements of a Northern Irish evangelical subculture, exploring how it has contributed to change—especially in directions we describe as converting, conserving and exiting. We conclude that a fuller understanding of individual religious change requires an appreciation of how these macro-level and micro-level factors intersect. In the context of the religiously-plural public sphere which is developing in Northern Ireland, we argue that evangelicals have more flexibility and specifically religious resources for political engagement than has been previously supposed.
  • Publication
    Pluralist, purified or private : protestant identification and political change in Northern Ireland
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2002)
    The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the responsiveness of national and religious identifications to political change amongst Protestants in Northern Ireland. I begin by theorising identification as a process of working out our ideas of self, others and place in which political change compels a rethinking of identity from the bottom up. I proceed to outline how the Good Friday agreement changes the political landscape from the perspective of the Protestant community. Then, based on a narrative analysis of interview data collected in 2000, I map three main directions of change amongst Protestants as people come to accept, reject or ignore political developments after the agreement. I conclude that Protestant identifications can open up and transform where people have had positive social experiences with the “other”, and feel that their future position in Northern Ireland is not tethered to communal membership. Conversely, identifications become more oppositional or private where people have had negative social experiences (or none at all) with the “other” and perceive that membership of the Protestant community, which they feel is losing out from change, will decide their fortunes in a new Northern Ireland.
  • Publication
    Catholicism in Northern Ireland and the process of conflict
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2003-05)
    It is a common misconception that religion in Northern Ireland is politically important only for Protestants, whereas for Catholics the causes of conflict are social, economic and political. Despite very high levels of religiosity amongst Catholics, faith is generally viewed as something located in the private sphere that does not spill over into the public realm. This paper challenges the assumption of the social insignifcance of Catholicism and urges re-examination of how the relationships between religion and politics are conceived and measured for this group. It argues that analysis must extend beyond linkages between theological beliefs and political preferences. In fact other dimensions of religion, such as its role in the construction of community and identity as well as its institutional influence, are much more useful in understanding its political significance. The paper concludes that when these dimensions of religion are examined, we find that Catholicism has been enormously important in the politics of conflict in Northern Ireland. It concludes that after the Good Friday Agreement, the political roles of Catholicism have changed somewhat, but have by no means disappeared.
  • Publication
    Between the devil and the deep blue sea : nationality, power and symbolic trade-offs among evangelical Protestants in contemporary Northern Ireland
    (Wiley Blackwell, 2007-10) ;
    National identity is symbolically complex configuration, with shifts of emphasis and reprioritisations of content negotiated in contexts of power. This paper shows how they occur in one post conflict situation – Northern Ireland – among some of the most extreme of national actors – evangelical Protestants. In-depth interviews reveal quite radical shifts in the content of their British identity and in their understanding of and relation to the Irish state, with implications for their future politics. The implications for understanding ethno-religious nationalism, nationality shifts and the future of Northern Ireland are drawn out.
      1011Scopus© Citations 20