Explaining the Emergence Process of the Civil Rights Protest in Northern Ireland (1945–1968): Insights from a Relational Social Movement Approach




Abstract  This article explains how the contingent of complex interactions among pre-existing structural settings, institutional constraints, processes of regional and international transformative events, and uniquely combined developments within and between different contenders in the aftermath of the Second World War shaped Northern Ireland socio and political relations and thus instigated the Civil Rights Movement mobilization process. By re-introducing the time-space context into our studies of collective action, through a relational reading, my intent first is to advance our understanding of those episodes and complex patterns of interaction that give rise to social movements, and second to move beyond the static movement-centric approach explanation and away from the a-historical nature of much of the social movement literature. My historical-sociological research, into the longitudinal case study of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement mobilization, involves secondary and new empirical primary sources, such as archival analysis, qualitative examination of Northern Ireland daily newspapers during the 1960s, and the collection of 35 semi-structured interviews with key players from the Civil Rights Movement.