Civil Society, Religion, and Conflict in Northern Ireland
This chapter develops conceptual tools for understanding religion and conflict in divided societies. This provides a template for understanding processes of change in Northern Ireland, and for drawing wider, general conclusions about other conflicts with religious dimensions. All too often, theoretical approaches to civil society have reduced it to “associational life” or assumed that it unproblematically produces good citizens or social capital (Hefner 2001, 1998; Hann 1996). However, an anthropological perspective on civil society is used to refine and reconceptualize the wider social science debate, leading to a redefinition of civil society in terms of its functions rather than its institutions. These functions—contributing to the process of socialization and the practice of nongovernmental politics—provide scope for understanding how civil society may be a site for both conflict and transformation.
KeywordsCivil Society Public Sphere Civil Society Actor Shared Identity Civil Society Group
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