A Contribution to Rupert Taylor’s Critique of Consociationalism in Northern Ireland

  • Antony Kalashnikov University of Alberta
Keywords: Ethnic Conflict, Irish Catholics, Protestants, Rupert Taylor


Political scientists John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary’s liberal consociational model argues that a power-sharing political settlement can be effective in resolving ethnic conflict.  Political scientist Rupert Taylor, by contrast, argues against McGarry and O’Leary’s model, claiming that the liberal consociational arrangement does not address the underlying sectarianism which binds ethnic communities into two reified groups, reinforcing the subordination both between and within them.  Specifically in terms of Northern Ireland, Taylor cites socio-economic deprivation as an instance of sectarianism; Irish Catholics are consistently found in subaltern, disadvantaged positions relative to their Protestant peers in terms of “rights, opportunities, and resources.”  By integrating economy-centred analytical approaches, this essay demonstrates that the economic dimension (particularly capital and its resulting class inequalities) has been structurally implicated in the Northern Ireland conflict, continually reinventing itself throughout history.