Social liberal peacebuilding and the case for a Universal Basic Income as a real peace dividend for Northern Ireland

  • Patrick Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The peace process in Northern Ireland is generally hailed as a success insofar as it brought an end to the period of violence known as ‘The Troubles’. However, this visage of success masks a Northern Ireland still marred by continuing structural violence demonstrated by high levels of poverty and deprivation, economic inequality and a deeply divided society. It is argued that the liberal peacebuilding project carried out in Northern Ireland has faltered in adopting a management approach to the conflict – ending violent conflict without addressing the structural political economy factors which contributed to the outbreak of the Troubles in the first place. This risks further conflict and only through transforming Northern Ireland’s post-conflict political economy can we reduce the causes of further cycles of conflict and structural violence. It is argued that a new, reformed framework for conflict transformation is required, one which fuses the overarching values of liberal peacebuilding with a social liberal political economy to create ‘social liberal peacebuilding’, a new approach focused on human security, flourishing, emancipation and participation. A Universal Basic Income, an unconditional and universal payment, is offered as a ‘Real Peace Dividend’ and the flagship policy of this reformed approach, arguing that it can remove a number of barriers to conflict transformation. Evidence for the transformational potential of UBI as a Real Peace Dividend is offered to support this argument from basic income-type experiments and qualitative data gathered from Northern Irish political and civic society elites.
Date of AwardDec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorJohn Barry (Supervisor) & Peter Doran (Supervisor)


  • Social liberalism
  • conflict transformation
  • peace building
  • Northern Ireland
  • universal basic income

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