More than two communities
Those who are both, neither, other, and next
in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
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Northern Ireland is a society not just of two communities but of many. This chapter uses empirical data from surveys and election studies to get a detailed, up-to-date impression of the range of identities held by people living in Northern Ireland today and, importantly, to consider what this means for the future. The chapter deliberately looks ‘in between’ the binaries which tend to be drawn across Northern Irish society. First, it looks at the growth of those who identify as having no religion and considers how this might impact on social preferences in the longer term. It also examines the steady increase in the proportion of those who describe themselves as being neither unionist nor nationalist, and considers whether this constitutes a common identity or mainly a rejection of a divisive politics. Related to this is the fact that many people of different backgrounds in Northern Ireland think of themselves as both British and Irish. The chapter considers what this means, as well as looking to see what is distinctive about the ‘Northern Irish’ identity as it has come to be conceived. Although it is strikingly homogenous compared to its neighbours, the population of Northern Ireland is increasingly ethnically and linguistically diverse and made up of people who were born outside the region. However, statistics show that prejudice and intolerance are certainly not problems of the past in Northern Ireland. Although the younger generation are less likely to oppose mixing and immigration than their parents, they are also less likely to vote and still largely conditioned to think of society in binary terms.

Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday

Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’


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