Reflexivity and Group Identity in Divided Societies

  • Jennifer Todd
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict book series (PSCAC)


How and when do ordinary citizens in divided societies press beyond group constraints and transform ethnic divisions? This chapter outlines the aims of the book and argues that we need to complement studies of group opposition with study of the equally basic impulse to individual reflexive change away from group constraints. It shows that the Irish cases—Northern Ireland after conflict and the Republic of Ireland—form a sort of natural experiment where the issues can be explored in societies where national and ethnic divisions are historically deep and institutionally embedded. It outlines the context of interview research in twenty-first century Ireland, North and South, and the content of the chapters that follow.


Ordinary citizens Ethnic divisions Individual identity change Groupness Nationalism Everyday life Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland The Irish border 


  1. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Bar-Tal, D. (2013). Intractable Conflicts: Socio-Psychological Foundations and Dynamics. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  3. Bayat, A. (2010). Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonikowski, B. (2016). Nationalism in Settled Times. Annual Review of Sociology, 42, 427–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brewer, J., Higgins, G., & Teeney, F. (2011). Religion, Civil Society and Peace in Northern Ireland. Oxford: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brubaker, R. (2015). Grounds for Difference. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coakley, J. (2009). A Political Profile of Protestant Minorities in Europe. National Identities, 11(1), 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coakley, J., & O’Dowd, L. (Eds.). (2007). Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Condor, S., & Figgou, L. (2012). Rethinking the Prejudice Problematic: A Collaborative Cognition Approach. In J. Dixon & M. Levine (Eds.), Beyond Prejudice: Extending the Social Psychology of Conflict, Inequality and Social Change (pp. 200–221). Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  10. Fox, J. E. (2017). The Edges of the Nation: A Research Agenda for Uncovering the Taken-for-Granted Foundations of Everyday Nationhood. Nations and Nationalism, 23(1), 26–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ganiel, G. (2008). Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Goertz, G., & Mahoney, J. (2012). A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Goodhart, D. (2017). The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Failure of Politics. London: Charles Hurst & Co.Google Scholar
  15. Hutchinson, J. (2005). Nations as Zones of Conflict. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Jaspal, R., & Breakwell, G. M. (2014). Identity Process Theory: Identity, Social Action and Social Change. Cambridge: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Leary, P. (2016). Unapproved Routes: Histories of the Irish Border. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Malešević, S. (2013). Nation-States and Nationalisms: Organization, Ideology and Solidarity. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  19. McCrone, D., & Bechhofer, F. (2015). Understanding National Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roy, O. (2013). Conclusion: What Matters with Conversions? In N. Marzouki & O. Roy (Eds.), Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World (pp. 175–187). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ruane, J. (2014). Comparing Protestant–Catholic Conflict in France and Ireland: The Significance of the Ethnic and Colonial Dimension. In J. Wolffe (Ed.), Irish Religious Conflict in Comparative Perspective. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Rumelili, B., & Todd, J. (2017). Paradoxes of Identity Change: Integrating Macro, Meso, and Micro Research on Identity in Conflict Processes. Politics, 38(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schwartz, S. J., Luyckx, K., & Vignoles, V. L. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of Identity Theory and Research. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Tajfel, H. (1981). Human Groups and Social Categories. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
  25. Wodak, R. (2015). The Politics of Fear. What Right Wing Discourses Mean. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wright, F. (1996). Two Lands on One Soil. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Todd
    • 1
  1. 1.Geary InstituteUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations