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It is quite astonishing just how impervious some recent analysis of Northern Ireland has been to evidence of social change. According to some, “the divisions within much of Northern Ireland remain as wide as ever” (McKinstry, 2021). The remarkable process of social transformation in Northern Ireland appears to have simply eluded such individuals. A wealth of survey evidence shows that a variety of social attitudes have altered significantly since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (1998). Statistics drawn from the Northern Ireland Life and Times surveys on matters pertaining to political identity, communal divide and sexual relationships are presented…

In a previous article examining the possible electoral implications of the UUP’s pragmatic response to the Northern Ireland Protocol, I suggested that the utility of the party’s approach is contingent upon its management of two apparent contradictions. First, the party must be able to rebuff prospective challenges from the DUP and TUV about why it is attempting to make the Protocol work if it does indeed believe it is “fundamentally flawed”. Second, potential questions from Alliance about the ambiguity concerning what type of workable long-term arrangements correspond with the UUP’s support for Brexit must be dealt with coherently.[i]

We owe a tremendous, if often unacknowledged, debt to Marxism in framing our collective understanding of Northern Ireland. Through Marxian conceptions of political economy, the state and ideology we have been able to more adequately explain how unionist and nationalist cultural formations are shaped and reshaped within finite historical contexts. Or, in plainer terms, Marxism has made it easier to understand why unionism and nationalism takes some forms over others at certain times. Drawing on this legacy, this article sets out the benefits of widening the parameters of some more contemporary Marxian analysis.

What contemporary analysis?

Marx’s influence can be…

The UUP’s response to the Northern Ireland Protocol is best described as pragmatic. When some unionists have been urging simple non-compliance with the Protocol, the UUP have adopted a more flexible posture aimed at ensuring its deleterious effects are mitigated for businesses and consumers. In a recent position paper, the party outlined a series of proposals that it hopes will contribute towards “workable solutions.” This article unpacks these proposals and explores whether the party’s pursuit of pragmatism could prove a vote winner.

The proposals

In its position paper, the UUP draws attention to the negative impact the Protocol has already…

By Dean Farquhar

‘Public opinion’ does not exist. Or, so at least believed the distinguished French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu. What we take to be ‘public opinion’, Bourdieu opined, is in fact an artefact of knowledge production that can foster a misleading impression of what people think. As Bourdieu pointed out, researchers and pollsters determine the issues that are deemed important enough to gauge the views of the public on and impose certain limitations upon the possible meanings placed on questions and answers by respondents. In short, they fashion ‘public opinion’ by selecting and framing the data collected. As such, studies…

Dean Farquhar

Researcher focusing on youth non-voting in Northern Ireland. All views expressed are my own.

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