Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Side-by-side in the Land of Giants : a study of space, contact and civility in Belfast
Author: Lepp, Eric
ISNI:       0000 0004 7657 1424
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement brought with it a great deal of attention and initiatives to construct and increase intergroup contact and shared spaces in an effort to reconcile divided nationalist/Catholic and unionist/Protestant communities. In the time following this peace agreement, the Belfast Giants ice hockey team was established, and in their 16 years as a team they have become one of the most attended spectator activities in Belfast, trending away from the tribalism, single-space, single-class, and single-gender dynamics of modern sport in Northern Ireland. This thesis research followed the supporters of the Belfast Giants throughout the 2015-2016 ice hockey season to better understand the encounters across historical divisions that are occurring in the Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) Arena. The research of this PhD thesis is directed by the concepts of social capital, intergroup contact, and civility. These concepts, when placed within the context of divided society, contribute to the thesis' guiding analytical framework, which offers thematic guideposts in areas of prejudice and anxiety, tolerance and trust, space and identity. Influenced by in-depth qualitative research that seeks to access local voices, this research takes the conceptual and analytical guidance into the stands of the SSE Arena. In this way, the unique 'side-by-side' methodology, which involved conducting interviews with the person in the seat to my left or right at Belfast Giants ice hockey games while immersing myself in the supporter community, emerged as not only a contribution to unearthing new voices in this oft-studied region, but also as an innovative contribution to qualitative methodological literatures. Beyond the methodological contribution, this thesis makes two further contributions to existing academic literatures on post-peace agreement relationships. The first of these is through the clear relationship between identity and space that are evident in its findings. Between the poles of conflict and reconciliation are the complex and simple interactions, which when placed in the SSE Arena at a Belfast Giants game illustrate the multi-layered and fluid nature of identity. The thesis finds the hockey arena is a space where a shared identity, 'the hockey family', materialises and includes nationalist and unionist populations. This shared identity is deeply connected to a physical place and activity that are situated outside the all-encompassing nature of division in present-day Belfast. However, within the unusual setting of an ice hockey arena in Northern Ireland there emerges ordinariness in encounter across historical cleavage, and from these mundane interactions comes the final contribution 'side-by-sidedness'. Influenced by supporters' willingness to sit side-by-side those on the opposite side of a historical division who they may not be willing to live beside, this theme is framed as a lightened encounter that challenges assumptions inherent in post-peace agreement settings. The research findings frame the SSE Arena as a site of sanctuary from polarised sectarian identities and activities, as well as a site of resistance from overarching peace agendas that push shared space and seek reconciliation. Side-by-sidedness exists in the everyday between these two poles. In highlighting this space between, this theme challenges the assumptions of 'face-to-faceness' that are inherent across the three concepts informing this thesis and through utilising notions of everyday peace and everyday division to include the relational, the spatial and the metaphorical, this thesis' meta-theme frames a new way of 'getting on with it' in the shadows of conflict.
Supervisor: Macginty, Hugh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Resistance ; Post-Peace Agreement ; Shared Identity ; Sanctuary ; Belfast Giants ; Civility ; Side-by-Side ; Tolerance ; Northern Ireland ; Spaces of Encounter