Politics in Northern Ireland

Politics in Northern Ireland

Politics in Northern Ireland

Politics in Northern Ireland

Synopsis

This is an examination of the dimensions of Northern Ireland's political arena which may have been overlooked or undervalued. It adopts the analytic tools of political science and brings a comparative perspective to bear on its subject matter.

Excerpt

Given the sheer volume of books related to the Northern Ireland conflict, it is traditional and appropriate to offer some words of justification for producing yet another. The case is straightforward: Although there are some very good (and a lot of bad) books on Northern Ireland, none of them look much like a text for a course we would design on the politics and government of Northern Ireland. Perhaps understandably, most of the literature concentrates on only a few dimensions of "the conflict" and especially on constitutional policy and the ongoing search for a resolution of the antagonisms. While obviously not wanting to neglect these important topics (several chapters focus on conflict regulation and "solutions"), our feeling was that other important dimensions of politics tend to be relatively overlooked and undervalued. Therefore, in addition to the high drama of constitutional initiatives and negotiations, this book focuses on social structure, the paramilitaries, electoral and party systems, parliaments, policymaking, policing, and gender. We hope that the result is a well-rounded core text designed for university undergraduates, as well as for a wider public interested in politics in Northern. Ireland.

Writing about contemporary politics does, of course, incur risks by threatening to create hostages to both ill and good fortune. However, though sensitive to the unfolding sequence of events, all of the contributors have been careful to embed their chapters within the rich body of scholarship that the study of Northern Ireland has generated. Although the book will appeal to a wider public audience, we have been motivated to cater primarily to the large and growing number of undergraduates attracted to the study of Northern Ireland's politics and for whom the sheer scale of literature is overwhelming. By combining genuine accessibility and considered scholarship, each of the authors helps to navigate students through the complexities of the politics of the region. Northern Ireland may be in the process of political transition. Accordingly, what the book provides, besides an analysis of alternative futures, is a set of guides that describe and explain both the opportunities and constraints that act on the prospects for change, whether they originate within its territory or beyond.

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