McAuley, James W. (2004) Peace and progress? Political and social change among young loyalists in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 60 (3). pp. 541-562. ISSN 0022-4537

Politics in Northern Ireland remain dominated by the search for an enduring settlement resting on an agreed set of political values and arrangements, between Ulster Unionists and loyalists on the one side, and Irish nationalists and republicans, on the other. Sectarian divisions continue to emphasize the persistence of conflictual social relationships between these gropings. Central to any possibility of a resolution to conflict is the awareness of how conflictual or reconciliatory values are transmitted from one generation to another, and how young people reconstruct their understandings of society. This article examines processes of political socialization and political identity formation around children and young people in Northern Ireland. It focuses in particular on those growing up within the Ulster loyalist tradition.

"North Belfast is witnessing the creation of the next wave of paramilitary gunmen. Today they are aged eight, their stones bouncing harmlessly off the army and police Land Rovers… . But give them a decade and, unless things change remarkably in the meantime many of these children will know how to fire a rifle or revolver, will have learnt to manufacture and use blast-bombs, and know exactly how much sugar is needed in a petrol bomb."

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