Whose Right to the City? Social Movement Challenges to Consociational Logics in Divided Cities
29 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 15, 2012
Consociational power sharing, which recognizes and accommodates the putatively particularistic identities of contending ethnic groups, has become the default mode of conflict management in violently divided societies. Accordingly, political institutions, public services and rights are duplicated and subject to fierce distributive conflicts. Intercommunal reconciliation is only weakly supported and a situation of an uneasy frozen conflict exists, even after a peace agreement. Yet the perceived wisdom that violently divided cities are characterized by permanent cleavages is challenged by the number of its citizens who refuse to be circumscribed by ethnic identities. These actors often mobilize in social movements that promote non-sectarian politics and identities, and include the protests of housing tenants, environmentalists, trade union parades and the carnivalesque rituals of gay groupings. In this paper, I explore such social movement activity primarily in the divided city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The purpose is not to uncritically celebrate these movements; it is to analyse their impact in transforming politics in divided societies in three main ways: creating intersecting circles and the rhizomatic networks; fostering a public sphere of debate; and challenging the programmed uses of segregated space.
Keywords: Consociationalism, Divided Cities, Social Movements, Peace
JEL Classification: Z00
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