Politics and ideology in a Protestant working class community in Belfast
The thesis considers the politics and ideology of Belfast's Protestant working class (PKC). It is also conceived as a contribution to discussions concerning the nature and theory of 'ideology' within the Marxist tradition. Traditional Irish Marxism has been dismissive of the PWC reducing their politics to the protection of marginal privelege sustained by Britain's Imperialist presence. This thesis argues that such a perspective is inadequate. It is essential to move away from the concept of loyalist ideology as a systematised form of false consciousness, rather it is necessary to look at the ideology of Protestant workers at the level of day to day experiences and practices. Such collectively lived experiences give the-alternative sets of practices embodied in working class culture. It is therefore important to draw on the sociological tradition of the community study. To fully understand PWC images of society it is necessary to construct the relationship between, local ideologies and the theoretically developed ideologies, generated by national institutions. In order to do this the thesis looks at the social structure and politics of a particular PWC commmity in Belfast. The thesis then outlines by way of case study how the PWC have reacted to the contemporary political and social situation in Northern Ireland. The thesis draws on interviews with residents, political activists and paramilitary members. In particular it identifies the politics and ideology of those active in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). In overall terms it highlights the ideology by which Protestant workers make sense of, and give meaning to, their social and political worlds.