It's Better to Stick to your own Kind: Teenagers' Views on Cross-community marriages in Northern Ireland

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This article presents the attitudes of 80 teenagers-growing up in one of the most contested localities in Northern Ireland-to cross-community marriages, i.e. those between Catholics and Protestants. Research suggests that adults in interface areas continue to exhibit ethno-sectarian prejudices despite wider political developments such as the Good Friday Agreement. The teenagers perceived that their families would be largely unsupportive of cross-community unions but felt that their own views were much less prejudiced than those of their parents. However, while the majority of teenagers had no objections in principle to marrying outside their religious group, they outlined a number of practical difficulties which couples from cross-community unions would face. These included deciding where to live, in which religion, if any, to bring children up and where to send children to school. Most of the teenagers suggested that these potential problems would work against them marrying outside their own religious group. These practical dilemmas provide a more nuanced set of reasons for marrying within one's own community than dilemmas based on traditional prejudices and stereotypes and suggest that teenagers living in sectarian enclaves are more receptive to cross-community marriages than their parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-113
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number1
Early online date07 Nov 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

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