The purpose of this article is to examine the socially constructed nature of the story telling process by drawing on an example from one locality in Northern Ireland. The research draws on focus group interviews with teenagers from polarized working-class communities in North Belfast. The overall locality is divided into Catholic and Protestant areas and a recurring feature of the data is the tendency for each group to define themselves in opposition to the other. Throughout the focus group interviews, the teenagers produced four types of stories and the article assesses the relevance of each type to producing, reproducing or challenging sectarian divisions. The first three groups of stories, First-hand stories, Second-hand stories and Collective stories reflect individual and group attitudes to distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ while the fourth, Alternative stories, questions the homogeneity of the in-group and the immutability of these divisions. These stories verbalize the internal recollections of both individuals and groups and rely on real and imagined memories. The thrust of the article illustrates the ways in which sectarian identities are constructed, shaped and diluted through these narrative encounters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science