Belfast’s 21st Century Apartheid: How Does Segregation Influence How Catholic Youth Experience and Navigate Life in Belfast?
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This thesis explores how the entrenched segregation of Belfast’s Catholic and Protestant communities influences the daily experiences and navigation of life for Catholic youth growing up in the post-conflict city. To address this inquiry, a qualitative ethnographic approach was conducted to understand how segregation, and the mechanisms that maintain it such as Belfast’s interface barriers, combative discursive landscapes, and schools and sports give rise to the making of place. The range of meanings attached to Belfast’s segregated spaces influences social norms, patterns of living and ultimately assists with the formation and (re)production of social identities. I argue that the array of meanings derived from segregated (and non-segregated) spaces in Belfast determines how Catholic youth experience and navigate their life throughout the city. To interpret their varied behaviour and strategies to navigate life in different parts of the city, I utilised Mac Ginty’s (2014) framework of everyday peace to facilitate a dialogue between the empirical evidence and theory. The thesis concludes by arguing that segregation plays a fundamental role in shaping patterns of life for youth and it ultimately dictates the strategies used to cope with and navigate life in a deeply-divided post-conflict society.