Home Institution

Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Ireland: Transformation of Social and Political Conflict


This report is the outcome of a month-long exploratory study on youth work in Northern Ireland regarding sectarian issues. It is an investigation of how sectarianism transfers from generation to generation, and how this often results in cycles of violence. The goal of this exploration was to find out what efforts are being made to combat this cycle at a youth level, and gain a more nuanced understanding of how these efforts can be effective. Data was obtained through literature, structured interviews, and participation and observation in a youth workshop. It is concluded that cross-community contact at a youth level can be an important starting point, but needs to be expanded on. Difficult conversations about contentious issues need to be had. This report will analyze the techniques that go into facilitating these conversations and assess how the location of discussion, demographic of those involved, and ability of the facilitator all play an important role. I would suggest that doing more field research on the topic would further this study. The opportunity to speak with more youth workers, and in particular, youth themselves, would provide a deeper understanding of the issue. As this paper discusses the need for a long-term vision in youth projects, it would be productive to run a similar study in a few years time.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social Psychology and Interaction