Peacebuilding in contested societies is a cross-sectoral enterprise in which young people are primary stakeholders. Multilateral state-sponsored programmes and philanthropic agencies have resourced a vibrant youth sector delivering peacebuilding initiatives in Northern Ireland and the border counties. Despite billions in investment and a rich tapestry of transformative practice, a visionary peacebuilding strategy co-created with young people has remained elusive. As a result, youth sector peacebuilding in Northern Ireland is inhibited by an obstacle facing civil society peacebuilding across the globe – an ill-articulated vision resulting in pockets of disparate practice. Based on empirical research involving 43 youth work practitioners, this article offers a novel and rigorous methodological framework and sociological analysis to support researchers, policymakers and practitioners in contested societies to advance conceptualisations of peacebuilding. Freeden's framework of morphological analysis is operationalised through Q methodology leading to the identification of four distinctive orientations to peacebuilding. Bourdieu's concepts of capital and field are drawn upon to analyse the four perspectives, framed within a new sociopolitical model of youth sector peacebuilding. Tensions between harmonising versus politicising propensities are discussed as a substantial divergence variously incentivised or neglected by powerful actors within the field with significant implications for the trajectory of practice.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.
- General Social Sciences
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Youth Work
- Q methodology
- Youth work
- morphological analysis