Sectarian and Nonsectarian Violence: Mothers' Appraisals of Political Conflict in Northern Ireland

Laura Taylor, C. Merrilees, A. Campbell, Peter Shirlow, M. Goeke Morey, A. Schermon, M. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Past research on peace and conflict in Northern Ireland has focused on politically motivated violence. However, other types of crime (i.e., nonsectarian) also impact community members. To study the changing nature of violence since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in Northern Ireland, we used a qualitative approach and the Constant Comparative Method to analyze focus group discussions with mothers from segregated Belfast neighborhoods. Participants articulated clear differences between sectarian and nonsectarian violence, and further distinguished sectarian violence along 2 dimensions—overt acts and perceived intergroup threat. Although both sectarian and nonsectarian antisocial behavior related to insecurity, participants described pulling together and increased ingroup social cohesion in response to sectarian incidents. The findings have implications for the study of violence and insecurity as experienced in the everyday lives of mothers, youth, and families in settings of protracted conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-366
Number of pages24
JournalPeace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Volume17 (4)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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