Convergence/Divergence: Party political discourse in Northern Ireland's transition from conflict

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper illuminates the role of political language in a peace process through analysing the discourse used by political parties in Northern Ireland. What matters, it seems, is not whether party discourses converge or diverge but rather how, and in what ways, they do so. In the case of Northern Ireland, there remains strong divergence between discourses regarding the ethos of unionist and nationalist parties. As a consequence, core definitions of identity, culture, norms and principle remain common grounds for competition within nationalism and unionism. There has, however, been a significant shift towards convergence between unionist and nationalist parties in their discourses on power and governance, specifically among the now predominant (hardline) and the smaller (moderate) parties. The argument thus elaborated is that political transition from conflict need not necessarily entail the creation of a “shared discourse” between all parties. Indeed, points of divergence between parties’ discourses of power and ethos are as important for a healthy post-conflict democratic environment as the elements of convergence between them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-213
Number of pages18
JournalDynamics of Asymmetric Conflict
Volume4 (3)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Law
  • Social Psychology


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