By Desmond Bell
During the last twenty years, a sequence of adlescent generations have come of age in strife-torn Ulster. adolescents enhance a feeling of ethnic know-how - as Ulster Protestant or Irish Catholic - in a state of affairs of political difficulty and sectarian disagreement. utilizing ethnographic tools, Desmond Bell explores the subcultural global of younger Loyalists and examines the position of teenage cultural practices within the copy of ethnic id and within the reconstruction of culture in Irish society.
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Extra resources for Acts of Union: Youth Culture and Sectarianism in Northern Ireland
The extended kinship patterns and local communal networks characteristic of 'traditional' and traditionally militant Loyalist working-class residential districts, like the Shankill in Belfast, or the Fountain in Derry, have given way to a more nucleated and privatized pattern of community life. 10 It has become harder, given the declining physical and social integrity of Protestant residential space, for Loyalists to identify a physical referent for their imagined Protestant community. Thirdly, the ongoing political crisis has seen the partial dismantling of the 'Orange system' of political patronage with the replacement of Stormont by Direct Rule.
As late as 1967 another Catholic priest and sometime sociologist was alerting us to the fact that: Youth have always had problems and there have always been problem youths. Now there is a wider problem - the problem of Modern Youth ... There is at least the danger that in Ireland we may have to face the same problem in the near future (Forde, 1967). The 'problem' was seen by Forde as being one of the influences on Irish young people of 'English teenage culture': It is the new way of life, the new attitudes and values, the new entertainment, dress and hair-styles of many English teenagers, the majority of whom are not delinquents.
Local social scientists are of course only too aware of this state of affairs and of the fact that poverty can have as great an impact on people's lives as can violence, if not greater. In particular social scientists interested in children in Northern Ireland are very conscious of the fact that violence is not the only form of deprivation that Northern Ireland's children may have been exposed to (Cairns, 1987). Yet, as we have argued, the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland which so shapes the lives of young working-class people is not in essence a 'social problem'.