Urban Schism, Social Strains: Exploring the Collective Identities of Youth in Contemporary Belfast

By David Drissel.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article investigates how urban spatial changes have influenced the construction, negotiation, and transformation of collective identities in contemporary Belfast, Northern Ireland, and features an ethnographic study of local teenagers and young adults (ages 15 to 28). Spatially splintered for years by an ideologically driven conflict known as the Troubles, Belfast was bifurcated primarily along ethno-religious lines. However, the city’s socio-spatial structure was modified to some extent beginning in the late 1990s as a result of major political developments such as the enactment of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace accord. The continued existence of in-group/out-group perceptions among young people in post-Troubles Belfast is a major focus of this article. In addition, the construction of shared (non-oppositional) spaces populated mostly by youth is explored, based on the theory that the presence of alternative subcultures and related neo-tribes in such spaces effectively reconfigures social boundaries and diminishes the salience of traditional identification categories. Though sectarian perceptions were discovered to exist among many respondents, traditional social barriers were found to have eroded in certain settings. In particular, recently constructed shared social spaces have been utilized by youth to effectively blur schismatic distinctions and at least partially transform their collective identities.

Keywords: Collective Identity, Urban, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Youth Subcultures, Neo-Tribes, Schism, Strains, Urban Space, Social Stratification, Stereotypes, Ethnography

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.177-186. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 549.648KB).

Prof. David Drissel

Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, IA, USA

David Drissel is an associate professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His undergraduate work included a double-major in political science and sociology and his graduate studies focused on comparative politics, international relations, and social change and development. Research interests include the global politics of Internet governance, transnational social movements, post-communist/post-socialist countries in transition, computer-mediated communication and society, youth subcultures and social deviance, and the utilization of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among many other countries. He is an alumnus of the Oxford (University) Roundtable in Great Britain, where he presented a paper on Internet governance. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several papers published in various academic journals and compilations.

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