Distancing from Division: The Frequency and Framing of Individual Identity Innovation

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


This chapter shows the frequency and extent of identity change in each Irish jurisdiction in the 2000s. Using a robust measure of individual identity innovation, understood as individual distantiation from divisive social practices and grammars, and working with a very large sample of over 220 qualitative interviews, it shows that about half of respondents—two thirds in Northern Ireland and over a third in the Irish state—undertake identity innovation. This reveals a counter-tendency to the well-established trends towards group solidarity and polarization in conflicts, showing a grass-roots dynamic for change that peace-makers and politicians can work with. In both parts of Ireland, identity innovation was a response to new social opportunities; in Northern Ireland it was also a response to normative dissonance between group-specific assumptions, normative principles and social experience.


Conflict ethos Identity opposition Measures of identity innovation Radical and resonant change Normative dissonance Opportunity Contact Compromise Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

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