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Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland$
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Timothy J. White

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784995287

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784995287.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2019

The ‘real’ and ‘dirty’ politics of the Northern Ireland peace process: a constructivist realist critique of idealism and conservative realism

The ‘real’ and ‘dirty’ politics of the Northern Ireland peace process: a constructivist realist critique of idealism and conservative realism

Chapter:
(p.18) 1 The ‘real’ and ‘dirty’ politics of the Northern Ireland peace process: a constructivist realist critique of idealism and conservative realism
Source:
Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
Author(s):

Paul Dixon

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784995287.003.0002

The chapter argues that Idealist and Realist paradigms cannot explain the Northern Ireland peace process. Idealism underestimated communal antagonisms and failed to appreciate the difficult role played by politicians in achieving an elite compromise. Realists underestimated the possibilities of political change because they have a static, essentialist view of identity which underestimates the role of political elites. Constructivism provides a more flexible framework for analysing the ‘real’ politics by which the peace process was advanced. A Constructivist framework and theatrical metaphor are provide a more complex and nuanced understanding of politics. This approach takes into account the constraints and opportunities facing political actors and the consequent morality of the ‘political skills’ or deception and manipulation that were used to drive the peace process forward.

Keywords:   Paradigms, Realism, Idealism, Constructivism, Deception, Peace Process, Northern Ireland

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