chapter  7
16 Pages

The Northern Ireland conflict and the impact of globalisation

Globalisation has been described as 'the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all areas of contemporary social life' (Held et al. 1999: 2). It is manifested in flows of money, goods, peoples, ideas, images, n1essages (Appadurai 1990) and in new transnational political institutions. It is often identified as involving a 'post-modem' change in identification, value-orientation and national identity (Waters 1995; JalTIeSOn 1998). In this chapter we examine the very uneven impact of globalising processes on a particular social situation - Northern Ireland. We show how its impact has been mediated by state action as well as by the particular culture and institutions of Northern Ireland. We conclude that globalisation does not necessarily override the more specific logics embedded in local, regional or national situations. It has brought a complex, changing environment which opens a range of new political possibilities. It has provided the arena in which political leaders have forged a peace process and the Good Friday Agreelnent. It by no means guarantees the continuation or success of the Agreement. If it gives space for radical political initiatives, it also generates tendencies that challenge their success. It demands continuing political effort to maintain and amplify the political achievements of the 1990s in Northern Ireland in this - newly uncertain - environment.