The Challenge of Consociation in Northern Ireland

John Coakley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article assesses the role played by the principle of consociational government in promoting Northern Ireland's peace agreement. It reviews the central concept of consociation as it has evolved in recent comparative studies of the politics of divided societies. It describes the stages by which this concept moved to the centre of the political agenda in Northern Ireland, resting on contributions by policy-makers, academics, journalists and others. It reviews the difficult history of efforts to translate this principle into practice, contrasting the failed attempt to promote this formula in 1973 with the much more successful experiment in 1998. Using the classical literature on consociation, an effort is made to explain the difference between these outcomes, a difference with implications for Northern Ireland's future stability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-493
Number of pages21
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number3
Early online date14 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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