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Agency versus structure in reconciliation

Hughes, James (2018) Agency versus structure in reconciliation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 41 (4). pp. 624-642. ISSN 0141-9870

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01419870.2018.1381340


Reconciliation theories, discourses and practices prioritize agency over structure. They suggest that inter-group conflicts involving deep cleavages such as ethnicity, race and religion can be resolved by processes involving inter-personal contacts, and achieving a desired end-state of shared values, narratives and identity. Contact between group members under optimal conditions of parity and trust is viewed as the critical tool for change. By problematizing conflictual identities and social relations as agential and inter-personal, conflicts are decontextualized from their structural environment. Structural segregation provides us with a bridging concept between the agency factors, structural dynamics of conflict, and the obstacles to post-conflict reconciliation. The case of Northern Ireland, often elevated to the status of a model for conflict resolution, is analysed to show how structural segregation is the critical barrier to the optimal group interactions envisaged by agential reconciliation, as it sustains low inter-group trust and political polarization.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2017 10:05
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2024 00:48

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