Sociopolitical implications of exclusive, intergroup perceptions of victims in societies emerging from conflict

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Abstract

Peacebuilding frameworks reflect an imperative to acknowledge the experiences of victims in an effort to remedy their harm and consolidate peace. Most social groups involved in conflict, however, claim to be the ‘real’ victims, often while refuting the victimhood of their adversaries. This exclusive attitude toward victims resonates with group identification and complicates the task of addressing victims’ needs. This article examines the implications of such exclusive, intergroup perceptions of victims on the prospect of peacebuilding,
drawing upon empirical evidence from Northern Ireland. Three overlapping implications emerge, including difficulty identifying victims and their needs, proliferation of a competitive and politicised ‘victim culture’ and the so-called ‘hierarchy of victims’. Exclusive, intergroup perceptions demonstrated in these three implications impede peacebuilding primarily by preventing the development of new, co-operative relationships between groups and reinforcing
divisive group identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-304
Number of pages16
JournalPeacebuilding
Volume5
Early online date29 Sep 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • victims
  • conflict
  • intergroup relations
  • identity
  • Northern Ireland

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