Political views and understandings

Peter Shirlow, Jonathan Tonge, James McAuley and Catherine McGlynn

in Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719080111
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703038 | DOI:
Political views and understandings

Show Summary Details


This chapter analyses the motivations underpinning participation in the conflict in Northern Ireland. It shows that experiential and situational factors were more important than historical belief and family tradition, and that motivations for joining were often reactive and ideological development followed, rather than preceded, violent actions and imprisonment. In engaging with the narratives presented by former prisoners, the chapter seeks to capture the complexity of combatant lives and experiences. Whilst drawing upon the interpretations of events and life histories, it aids the contextualisation of some broader arguments presented elsewhere in the book. The narratives presented are structured around past events that shaped the views of combatants; whether ‘combatants’ engaged in ‘military’ activity primarily because of strongly held personal beliefs, deeply held ideological perspectives, or some combination of both. As in other societies, Northern Ireland is characterised by dominant sets of competing and contested attitudes bounded and reinforced by patterns of political socialisation.

Keywords: Northern Ireland; motivations; combatants; conflict; family tradition; experiences; political socialisation; personal beliefs; life histories; narratives

Chapter.  11224 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

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