How Young People in Northern Ireland Understand European Citizenship: A Sociological Study

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This book examines the meaning of citizenship and evaluates the salience of ‘Citizenship of the Union’ amongst a sample of young university students in Northern Ireland. T.H. Marshal is the main citizenship theorist in the UK, but this work argues that an alternative theoretical approach, based on the work of Max Weber, more accurately explains the dynamic nature of citizenship Northern Ireland.


“An important contribution made by this book is the empirical data it provides on the aspirations and expectations of university students in Northern Ireland with regard to European citizenship. As an economically disadvantaged region of the UK, Northern Ireland would almost certainly benefit from a higher level of European integration. . . . In concentrating on citizenship and identity the author has approached the subject from a modern perspective. Dr. O’Brien enables us to understand the core concerns of the past and present and, at the same time, helps us to anticipate the future. This book makes an important contribution to knowledge about the origins, persistence and possible solutions to the conflict situation in Northern Ireland.” – Prof. Joe McCormack, University of Ulster at Coleraine

“The book provides some shoots of hope for a society where citizenship has been understood in a narrow and exclusionary sense by demonstrating not a commitment but an acceptance and openness by young people to citizenship of the European Union. It has lessons not only for the exploration of citizenship in divided societies but for examination of the implications and potential of the concept of citizenship of the European Union in the context of a highly mobile European population.” – Prof. Julia S. O’Connor, University of Ulster

“. . . an excellent analysis of the links between inclusion, exclusion and citizenship in Northern Ireland.” – Prof. Max Koch, Lund University

“Dr. O’Brien’s book provides a deep insight into the self-perception of young educated Northern Irish people, the future elite of a region deeply shaped by long-winded violent conflicts fuelled by a rivalry of identities that is still virulent.” – Prof. Jan Wielgohs, European University Viadrina Frankfurt

Table of Contents

Foreword by Joe McCormack
1. Theoretical Approaches to Citizenship
2. Citizenship and the Theory of Social Closure
3. Application of Social Closure Theory to Northern Ireland
4. The Development of European Union Citizenship
5. Setting the Scene: Design of the Empirical Study
6. Northern Irish Youth and the European Union
7. Social Closure and European Citizenship in Northern Ireland: Analysis and Conclusions
APPENDIX 1 Methodology Issues: A Discussion and Rationalisation
A.1.1 Investigate approach to the research
A.1.2 Strategy
A.1.3 ‘The debate’
A.1.4 Components of research
A.1.5 Justification for using quantitative approach
A.1.6 Opportunity sampling: a discussion
A.1.7 What is sampling error?
A.1.8 Validation of sample
A.1.9 Student samples
A.1.10 Pilot study: introduction
A.1.11 Materials
A.1.12 Method
A.1.13 Questionnaire debriefing
A.1.14 Conclusion to pilot study
A.1.15 Main study: introduction
Appendix 2 Main Questionnaire
Appendix 3 Pilot Questionnaire

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