Beyond the Orange and the Green. The Diversification of the Qualitative Social Research Landscape in Northern Ireland

Dirk Schubotz


The Northern Ireland conflict has been described as one of the most over-researched conflicts in the world. However, this is a relatively recent development. For many years, when the conflict was most intense, social scientists in North­ern Ireland were silent and not vocal. The sectarian violence that dominated the life in Northern Ireland as well as the fact that the country was a funda­mentally unjust society con­tributed to this silence. However, since the peace process began in the mid 1990s, a growing num­ber of qualitative studies have been published, utilising one-to-one inter­views and focus group discussions, in order to "make people's voices heard" and deal with the con­se­quences of the so-called "Troubles". This paper looks into the emerg­ence of a qualitative social research landscape in Northern Ireland beyond the conflict and explores issues so far neglected. It is argued that a number of factors have con­trib­uted to this, among them the availability of research funding to voluntary and community sector organ­isations that use their data to influence policy-making and equality legislation in a country which is still deeply divided along socio-religious lines.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503293


Northern Ireland; conflict; socio-religious segregation; community organisations; social context; sensitive subject areas

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Copyright (c) 2005 Dirk Schubotz

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