Contact, trust and social capital in Northern Ireland: a qualitative study of three mixed communities

Joanne Hughes, Andrea Campbell, Richard Jenkins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In a recent paper, Robert Putnam (2007) challenges the contact hypothesis by arguing that ethnic diversity causes people to ‘hunker down’ and essentially withdraw themselves from society. Drawing on
    qualitative data collected from three mixed communities in Northern Ireland, this paper explores the extent and quality of contact experienced by Protestants and Catholics in their everyday lives. Themes emerging from our data are generally consistent with the contact hypothesis. There is also some support for Putnam’s theory that mixed environments can induce ‘hunkering down’ and that inter-group trust may be compromised. However, our data challenge Putnam’s argument that these responses are a consequence of ‘anomie’ or ‘social malaise’. Rather, we find that withdrawal from social activity in the neighbourhoods we observed was a calculated response at times of threat, often aimed at protecting existent positive inter-ethnic relations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)967-985
    Number of pages19
    JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
    Volume34
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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