Poverty, social exclusion and the Northern Ireland conflict

  • Ronan Smyth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The thesis aims to identify causal pathways which exist between poverty, social exclusion and the Northern Ireland conflict. This subject is approached through a case study focus on the modern day inner-city area of Belfast. The evidence reviewed is quantitative and qualitative, spanning a period from around the 1798 United Irishmen Rebellion to the early 2010s. The thesis asks how poverty, social exclusion and the Northern Ireland conflict were connected throughout the violent conflict period of 1968-1998, and how this changed following the 1998 Good Friday Belfast Agreement. The period from around 1798 to 1968 is reviewed to identify causal pathways which may exist; pathways which are then analysed for the 1968-1998 period and the post-1998 period by utilising empirical data from the ‘Conflict Archive on the Internet’ archive at https://cain.ulster.ac.uk and the study ‘Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles’ (McKittrick et al, 2006 edition), along with the 2001 and 2010 Northern Ireland Indices of Multiple Deprivation (NIIMD), and the 2001 and 2011 UK censuses. ‘Lost Lives’ estimated that 3,720 people were killed as a result of the Northern Ireland conflict between 1966 and 2006, of which 3,635 were killed from 1969 to 1998. Following this, five principal
causal pathways are identified as follows: urban development and conflict; grievances and dysfunctional governance; globalisation and the workplace; paramilitarism and political exclusion; and, locked-in segregation and deprivation. Within each there are sub-pathways which demonstrate the relationships between poverty, social exclusion and the Northern Ireland conflict.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsEconomic & Social Research Council
SupervisorDirk Schubotz (Supervisor), Joe Duffy (Supervisor) & Michael Tomlinson (Supervisor)


  • Poverty
  • social exclusion
  • Northern Ireland conflict

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