Over the past decade or more there has been a growing concern at the levels of educational underachievement within loyalist working-class areas of Northern Ireland. The inability of both educational and social policy initiatives over the past decade to improve the situation in any meaningful way has raised important questions concerning how the problem can be tackled more effectively. Placing the issue within the theoretical framework of Gramsci’s hegemony, this paper argues that there is a need to better understand the historical nature of the problem and to recognise the political and social forces that have shaped its existence. It argues that there is a need to move away from explaining Protestant underachievement simply by the availability of jobs in Ulster’s industrial past and to place its roots in the complex battle for social, political, and economic power since the 1801 Act of Union.
- Educational underachievement
- Northern Ireland
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