Intergroup Contact and Peacebuilding: Promoting Youth Civic Engagement in Northern Ireland

Shelley McKeown, Laura K. Taylor

Abstract


Focusing on the post-accord generation in Northern Ireland, this study aimed to examine the role of intergroup contact in promoting support for peacebuilding and youth civic engagement. The sample comprised 466 youth (aged 14-15; 51% Catholic, 49% Protestant) who were born after the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and therefore represent a ‘post-accord’ generation. Recruited through their schools, youth completed scales on intergroup contact (quality and quantity), support for peacebuilding, and civic engagement. Hypotheses were tested using structural equation modelling and bootstrapped mediation in MPlus. Results found that support for peacebuilding partially mediated the association between higher quality and higher quantity contact and greater civic engagement (volunteering and political participation). Findings demonstrate that youth who are living with the legacy of protracted intergroup conflict can support peacebuilding and engage in constructive behaviours such as civic engagement. By recognising the peacebuilding potential of youth, especially in a post-accord generation, the findings may inform how to promote youth civic engagement and social reconstruction after conflict.

Keywords


intergroup contact; youth; peacebuilding; civic engagement; volunteering; political participation; Northern Ireland; post-conflict setting

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https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v5i2.769

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Citations:

  • James Laurence (2019)
    Youth Engagement, Positive Interethnic Contact, and ‘Associational Bridges’: A Quasi-Experimental Investigation of a UK National Youth Engagement Scheme
    Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(7), p. 1264(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01042-x
  • Deniz Yucel, Charis Psaltis (2019)
    Intergroup contact and willingness for renewed cohabitation in Cyprus: Exploring the mediating and moderating mechanisms
    Group Processes & Intergroup Relations
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430219845053
  • Marina Štambuk, Laura K. Taylor, Ajana Löw, Dinka Čorkalo Biruški, Christine E. Merrilees, Dean Ajduković, E. Mark Cummings (2019)
    Parental competitive victimhood and interethnic discrimination among their children: The mediating role of ethnic socialization and symbolic threat to the in‐group
    British Journal of Social Psychology
    https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12321
  • Laura K. Taylor, Shelley McKeown (2019)
    Does violence beget violence? The role of family ethnic socialization and intergroup bias among youth in a setting of protracted intergroup conflict
    International Journal of Behavioral Development, 43(5), p. 403(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025419844036



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