Situated Cosmopolitans: Mixed Marriage Individuals and the Obstacles to Identity Change
This chapter challenges the view that the persistence of macro-social division is a product of unchanging identities. It presents a type of experiment. It takes very similar mixed marriage individuals who are as if immune to ethnic solidarity in three contrasting research sites and compares their narratives of identity change. If division is a product of unchanging ethnic identities, then these ‘non-ethnic’ respondents should narrate similar processes of change in each research site. If it is due to socio-cultural obstacles to sustaining change, then the Northern Ireland respondents should narrate much greater difficulties than the others. The latter is the case. Identity change is difficult to sustain in divided societies even for the most open of individuals because it involves challenging and changing basic values and assumptions without institutional support or cultural signposts. Social division persists not because identity is static but because it changes, and the identity changes cannot be sustained.
KeywordsProtestantism Catholicism Endogamy Family Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland The Gard, France Free-movers Religion Experimental method Obstacles to identity change Radical moral questioning
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