Challenging Ethno-National Division: New Social Movements in Belfast

John Michael Nagle

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Literature on social movements in societies undergoing violent ethno-national conflict between two ‘warring factions’ has typically concentrated on civil rights, ethnic revivalists, peace and women's groups. This paper concentrates on two loose groupings – lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender, and ‘ban-the-bomb’ – that have been ignored. I argue that in the context of a ‘divided city’ like Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, these collective actors can be analysed as New Social Movements. Specifically, I look at how these new social movements have sought to experiment with forms of intercultural dialogue, expressive pluralistic communities which embrace unity through diversity and cosmopolitan, global identities which challenges the competitive, monolithic and divisive nationalisms which contribute to the sedimentation of violence and segregation of Irish Nationalists and British Unionists in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Movement Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2008


  • New social movements
  • Belfast
  • gay and lesbian
  • ban-the-bomb
  • ethno-national


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