A Disparity of Esteem: Relative Group Status in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Agreement

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Abstract

Using the case of a deeply divided society (Northern Ireland) in the aftermath of a major peace accord, this article combines two methodological approaches to assess the public reception of the peace accord and its impact on intergroup competition. The social psychological concept of esteem (central to social identity theory) and time-series data are used to assess intergroup relations between Protestant-unionists and Catholic-nationalists in Northern Ireland in the wake of the 1998 peace accord. By illustrating the disparity of esteem between the two main politico-religious groups, the article indicates early settlement weakness. Moreover, it suggests a conceptual approach that may be applicable to the study of intergroup competitions in other divided societies.

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