Grassroots Unionism And Conflict Transformation

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Shared Space


Significant progress has been made in Northern Ireland toward establishing sustainable powersharing governance. However, it remains a highly divided society exhibiting polarized ethnopolitical identities forged over decades of violence and mistrust. Conflict transformation theory calls for grassroots cultural and social psychological change alongside political peacemaking, and while considerable progress has been made through community relations work, it is also important to examine if and how ideologically committed organizations within the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) population can lower ethnopolitical barriers and engage constructively in civil society. Ethnographic research reveals that a range of grassroots PUL organizations are modifying cultural expressions that have often been considered intimidating or sectarian, reflecting on history and heritage, and seek to engage more fully in public discourse. The opportunities and risks of this kind of single-identity work are considered.