Identity and (De)segregation

Deborah Hyden, I. G. Shuttleworth, C. Stevenson

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Although moving home may affect social identity (Oishi, 2010), internal migration also changes the social context of the places people move between. Thus, it is not just the lives of the residentially mobile that may change, but those of individuals who remain in place. To explore if this was the case, multilevel modelling was conducted on data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) to examine the relationship between changing neighbourhood demographic context and the propensity to switch religious affiliation in Northern Ireland. The results, showed that shifts in local population balances were associated with an increased propensity of some of Northern Ireland’s ‘static’ residents to report a different religious identity in 2011 compared to 2001. While the data suggests that the direction of identity change in increasingly mixed areas was away from Catholicism for Catholics, a different pattern emerged for Protestants. However, the potential mismatch between local perceptions of neighbourhood and the administrative geographies used in this research casts doubt as to whether the type of meaningful contact required for identity change actually occurred (Gaertner, Dovidio, Anastasio, Bachman, & Rust, 1993; Regnerus & Uecker, 2006). Furthermore, reliance on census and administrative data implies that identity is a more or less ‘fixed’ property (Antaki, Condor, & Levine, 1996) rather than a discursive project with the potential power to realise a particular version of the social world (Hopkins & Reicher, 2014). Acknowledging that identity constructions may be oriented towards future visions of the social world indicates a requirement for qualitative research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
EventInternational Society of Political Psychology: 40th Annual Meeting of the ISPP - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jun 201702 Jul 2017


ConferenceInternational Society of Political Psychology: 40th Annual Meeting of the ISPP
Abbreviated titleISPP
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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