The minority-majority conundrum in Northern Ireland: An Orange Order perspective

Susan Condor, Clifford Stevenson, Jackie Abell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    37 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Researchers have argued that, depending on the framing of the Northern Ireland conflict, each group could either be a minority or a majority relative to the other. This complicates macrosocial explanations of the conflict which make specific predictions on the basis of minority or majority positions. The present paper argues that this conundrum may have arisen from the inherent variability in microidentity processes that do not fit easily with macroexplanations. In this paper the rhetoric of relative group position is analysed in political speeches delivered by leading members of an influential Protestant institution in Northern Ireland. It is apparent that minority and majority claims are not fixed but are flexibly used to achieve local rhetorical goals. Furthermore, the speeches differ before and after the Good Friday Agreement, with a reactionary “hegemonic” Unionist position giving way to a “majority-rights power sharing” argument and a “pseudo-minority” status giving way to a “disempowered minority” argument. These results suggest a view of the Northern Ireland conflict as a struggle for “symbolic power,” i.e., the ability to flexibly define the intergroup situation to the ingroup's advantage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-125
    Number of pages20
    JournalPolitical Psychology
    Volume28
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Dec 2006
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)
    • Social Sciences(all)

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