Cultural Development and the Politics of Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement

  • Pauline Hadaway

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines the relationship between cultural policymaking, cultural management and political conflict through a case study of Northern Ireland. As a site of protracted conflict in a region that is part of an advanced western economy, Northern Ireland offers useful examples of the tensions and contradictions that arise from instrumental uses of culture in social and economic policymaking. Sharing many of the same socio-economic problems as other post-industrial areas of the United Kingdom (UK), the region was strongly influenced by the cultural turn in urban regeneration policy from the late 1980s (Gaffikin, Mooney and Morrissey 1991; Evans and Shaw 2004; Harvey 2005; Yudice 2009). However, cultural development and culture-led regeneration strategies in Northern Ireland have inevitably focused on the need to manage and mitigate the socio-economic impacts of violent political conflict and normalize relations between the nationalist and unionist communities. In this way, the politics of peacebuilding has become a key factor shaping regional policy discourse and management practice. This thesis identifies cultural development, planning and policymaking as fields of contestation between rival discourses, ideologies and interests. It argues that the focus on peacebuilding and the attachment of power-sharing goals to socio-economic policy objectives has given rise to distinctive post-Agreement policy discourses and cultural management practices, in which mediating between contested claims associated with different conceptions of national belonging have become a central preoccupation. The methodology was informed by an interest in exploring the interplay between the rationales of policymakers and planners and the political structures, social systems and economic constraints that constitute Northern Ireland’s distinctive policy environment. It draws on the concept of the discursive moment (McGuigan 1996) and theoretical accounts of relationships between structure and agency and discourse, knowledge and power (Foucault 1980, 2002; Giddens 1984, 1994). Rather than explaining the dynamics of cultural management in terms of simple bureaucratic responses to external policy dilemmas, the thesis applies a critical analysis of events, ideas and actions. The aim is to throw light on the different rationales and motivations that shape the ideas, attitudes and political imaginations of the various decision makers and policy actors and managers engaged in development, consultation and decision-making processes. In other words, this thesis offers an analysis of cultural development in post-Agreement Northern Ireland as a discursive practice, in which dominant concepts and theories associated with regeneration and peacebuilding are applied to structural dilemmas in the economic and social sphere.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlison Jeffers (Supervisor) & Abi Gilmore (Supervisor)


  • Northern Ireland
  • peacebuilding
  • social and economic development
  • cultural policymaking
  • Cultural development
  • cultural management

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