Does social deprivation influence inter-group contact outcomes for pupils in Northern Ireland?

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The education system in Northern Ireland is characterized by division, with
around 95% of the pupil population attending predominantly co-religionist
schools. In a society that is transitioning from a thirty year conflict that has been
framed by hostilities between the main Catholic and Protestant communities, reconciliation
interventions in education have sought to promote the value of intergroup
contact between pupils attending separate schools. Some qualitative research
suggests that such initiatives are more likely to have positive outcomes for
pupils from more middle class backgrounds than those from more disadvantaged
communitiesand areas that experienced high levels of conflict related incidents and deaths during the pre-ceasefire years. Drawing on contact theory and empirical evidence from a large scale quantitative study, we seek to examine this theory. Using free school meals as a proxy for social class, our findings are consistent in finding that there is a differential impact of contact for those from less affluent backgrounds, and we conclude by arguing that this should be reflected in policy responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
Number of pages19
JournalRicerche di Pedagogia e Didattica – Journal of Theories and Research in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • intergroup contact, reconciliation, education, disadvantage


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