Ethnic Identity Change and Conflict Transformation

Lee A. Smithey

in Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195395877
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914470 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Strategic Peacebuilding

Ethnic Identity Change and Conflict Transformation

Show Summary Details


This chapter focuses on the importance of ethnic identity change for conflict transformation. The author asserts that collective identity is malleable, constructed in interaction with other social actors, and subject to incremental change. Those who sponsor the display of group symbols and rituals are situated to introduce new ideas and shift group boundaries. However, such change is limited by structural circumstances, strategic imperatives, and the social psychological needs of group members. Fortunately, the shift in Northern Ireland’s conflict toward nonviolent political persuasion provides opportunities for unionists and loyalists to reflect on their priorities, articulate their goals and identities, and thereby develop a sense of empowerment that is conducive to the development of a multicultural society.

Keywords: collective identity; conflict transformation; empowerment; ethnic identity; identity change; multiculturalism; nonviolent; Northern Ireland; peacebuilding; persuasion

Chapter.  12799 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.