Introduction
in Socio-ideological fantasy and the Northern Ireland conflict
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This book asks why the conflict (‘the Troubles’) in Northern Ireland endures and argues that the reason for this is the function of the unconscious in the reproduction of antagonism and communal division. The recognition of this dimension has important consequences for a theory of conflict management. The book draws on some of the most candid interview material to date with former members of the Irish Republican Army, recorded during the 1994–1996 ceasefire. It presents an outline of Lacanian psychoanalysis and demonstrates that its development of the unconscious dynamics of identity construction helps explain the reproduction of socio-political conflict as participants indulge in fantasy and rival over jouissance. It contends that the unconscious fantasies underlying the constitution of the political identities of republicans and loyalists are central to the reproduction of the conflict in that they nurture the desire of Catholics and Protestants to expand their economic, political, social, and ideological sense of self or identity, leading to domination, dependence, inequality, and the Catholic and Protestant threat.

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