Acts of Union: Youth Culture and Sectarianism in Northern by Desmond Bell

By Desmond Bell

During the last twenty years, a sequence of teen generations have come of age in strife-torn Ulster. youngsters increase a feeling of ethnic wisdom - as Ulster Protestant or Irish Catholic - in a state of affairs of political quandary and sectarian disagreement. utilizing ethnographic tools, Desmond Bell explores the subcultural international of younger Loyalists and examines the position of minor cultural practices within the replica of ethnic identification and within the reconstruction of culture in Irish society.

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Example text

It established a permanent government Youth Committee to oversee the development of a professional youth service and to buttress the provision of the voluntary, largely uniformed youth organizations. An aetiology of youthful disorder was formulated. This traced the origins of juvenile delinquency to the inadequate policing of the streets and to parental neglect. It prescribed as a cure the professionalization of the youth service and provision of recreational facilities. This diagnosis and 'course of treatment' was to be faithfully repeated with regard to another generation of Ulster 'problem youth' in the 1970s.

However, because of the unresolved national question, populist ethnic ideologies have tended to be the mobilizing basis for political parties rather than articulated class interests. This has taken different forms in the two post-partition states. In Northern Ireland, Unionist hegemony rested on the capacity of the 'Orange System' to build an 'all class alliance' of Protestants - industrial workers, bourgeoisie and landlords - an alliance which faltered only relatively recently. In what is now the Republic of Ireland the situation has been somewhat different.

The other, the Protestants of Ulster, do not. We have, then, to move beyond the conceptual confines of the 'national question' to understand the specific form of ethnie which integrates the Protestants. Have social anthropological conceptions of ethnicity something to contribute here to our comprehension of this perverse identity? Anthropologists have come to see ethnicity as one of a number of kinds of collective identity, distinctive from, but related to local, national and class identities, through which particular representations of cultural difference function to promote social cohesion within a social group.

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