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Date of Award

1976

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

Supervisor

J. J. Mol

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the concepts of myth and violence and their inter-relationship, in the specific context of Northern Ireland. It demonstrates that those phenomena have, in Ulster, given rise to a distinct type of group cohesion and group conflict.

The thesis begins with an overview of the treatment accorded to the concepts of myth and violence in social theory. The insights from this discussion are then applied to the concrete socio-historical problem in hand.

The evolution of the myths is examined within the colonial history of the province, and their role in shaping both the present social structure of Ulster and the perceptions of the social actors concerned is emphasized. This thesis also attempts to explain why violence has been chosen as the most appropriate form of social action by a significant section of the population and, moreover, why it has become habitual. The mtuality of the myths and the violence is made apparent.

The thesis concludes that the specific type of conflict now apparent in Ulster is contingent upon and reinforces the special type of group cohesion one finds there. This cohesion and conflict, it is contended, are significantly influenced by the myths and violence, and have rendered unto them their distinct character.

The conflict in Northern Ireland seems, to many, to be a mystifying and anachronistic struggle. By focusing on the factors which give the conflict this seemingly incongruous character, the thesis intends to further the understanding of a complex social situation, and to demonstrate a new application of integration and coercion theories.

McMaster University Library

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