Intergroup Contact and Peacebuilding: Promoting Youth Civic Engagement in Northern Ireland
School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Laura K. Taylor
School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
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.