The Practice of Building Social Networks in Divided Communities: A Case Study of a Northern Ireland Border Region

By Gruidl, John; Stephens, Jude | Journal of the Community Development Society, July 2000 | Go to article overview

The Practice of Building Social Networks in Divided Communities: A Case Study of a Northern Ireland Border Region


Gruidl, John, Stephens, Jude, Journal of the Community Development Society


ABSTRACT

Based on an interactional community model that suggests the importance of social networks, this case study examines ongoing community development projects in a border region between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Using interviews and official documents, local and regional development efforts that build social networks are identified. The findings suggest strategies for community development practice in divided communities, including facilitating open discussions of symbols and rituals, and utilizing schools, arts, and other non-threatening vehicles to initiate contacts.

**********

INTRODUCTION

This case study examines the practice of building social networks through ongoing community development projects in Sliabh Beagh, (1) a border region shared by two distinct political entities, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and marked by decades of conflict. In the interactional community model suggested by Wilkinson (1991), building social networks is primary in the process of community development. Wilkinson (1991, p. 92) defines community development as "a process in which local actors attempt consciously to create or strengthen the networks through which they can work together to solve their community problems and express their shared interests in the locality."

Unfortunately, there are many regions around the world where longstanding tensions, often traced back to political, religious, racial, or ethnic differences, have interfered with the building of social networks. To improve the efficacy of community development practice in these settings, a better understanding is needed of strategies that are successful in building social networks in divided communities.

This research addresses the following question: What community development practices are likely to be effective in building social networks that contribute to the community well-being in a setting with longstanding divisions? The Sliabh Beagh region was chosen to examine this question for the following reasons: (1) it has experienced a long history of political and ethnic conflict; (2) social networks contributing to the community as a whole have been in wide disrepair; (3) it has had documented signs of underdevelopment and has had active community development groups for many years; and (4) a recent change in the political landscape has allowed for new opportunities to build social networks.

Although the case study of Sliabh Beagh is pursued for its intrinsic value, the strategies identified that are effective in bringing divided people together and building social networks might be tested in similar settings (e.g., U.S. regions or communities with racial divisions). The ultimate goal is to support and improve community development practice in divided communities.

Community as a Social Interactional Field

Hillery (1955, p. 11) states that community "consists of persons in social interaction within a geographic area and having one or more common ties." Wilkinson (1991, p. 88) concludes that the community is a field of social interaction and "represents the capacity of local residents to work together for their own well-being."

However, a critical distinction exists between local activities that represent community phenomena and local activities that have marginal relevance to the community (Warren, 1978). Only if actions are integrated as indicated by a common set of actors and associations and if the goals of the actions are influenced by the conditions for greater social well-being is the community field engaged (Pigg, 1999).

Social well-being has economic, ecological, psychological, and social dimensions, according to Wilkinson (1991). He asserts that improved social well-being for community residents is the purpose of community development and is represented in efforts to develop the community field, that is, the network of social interactions that contains and integrates the variety of interests found in the local society. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Practice of Building Social Networks in Divided Communities: A Case Study of a Northern Ireland Border Region
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.