Prejudice and (in)tolerance in Ulster
in Tolerance and diversity in Ireland, North and South
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Northern Ireland is a contradictory society in which prejudice and tolerance exist as uneasy neighbours, but where expressions of intolerance dominate public and media perceptions of the norms of inter-communal interaction. This chapter begins to unpack the notions of tolerance and prejudice in relation to Northern Ireland. It argues that tolerance and prejudice are not singular notions but rather may differ in relation to the nature and construct of the ‘other’, the background and status of the individual, and that expressions of intolerance may be triggered by different types of events and activities. These factors may therefore lead to an informal hierarchy of prejudice and tolerance, with some communities being less tolerated than others, while some sections of the community present themselves as more tolerant than others. Finally, while intolerance is individually held, it is experienced most severely when it is socially triggered and collectively expressed, and in the absence of a clear strategy and leadership to promote engagement and respect, outbursts of collective intolerance are only likely to increase.

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