Interpretations of national identity in post-conflict Northern Ireland: A comparison of different school settings

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Abstract

It is generally accepted that education has a significant role to play in anysociety transitioning from conflict to a more peaceful dispensation. Indeed,some have argued that the education system potentially represents the singlemost effective agent of social change with the capacity to bridge ethnicdivision in conflict affected countries. Despite the potential, educationalpolicy-makers grapple with the dilemma as to precisely how school systemscan best facilitate this agenda. This paper thus attempts to shed lightupon the dilemma by exploring pupil identity and associated intergroupattitudes across various school types in Northern Ireland. Five schools wereselected for the study with each one representing a particular sector withinthe Northern Irish education system (maintained grammar, maintainedsecondary, controlled grammar, controlled secondary, integrated). This led toa total sample size of 265 pupils. The main findings show that children acrossseparate Catholic, separate Protestant and mixed Catholic and Protestanteducational contexts construct and interpret identity differently. At thesame time, our data suggest that no one school setting has supremacy inpromoting social cohesion. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Early online date28 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 28 Mar 2016

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