Discuss the Sociological Background to the Northern Ireland Conflict and the Extent to Which the Types of Discrimination Experienced by Catholics Have Weakened or Been Reversed in Recent Years.

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The aim of this essay is to present a sociological interpretation on the background to the Northern Ireland as not simply a religious war by looking Catholic discrimination in detail and also help develop a better understanding of how the discrimination has been reversed in recent years. Firstly, two key theorists Hewitt and O’Hearn will be discussed in relation to the conflict and the discrimination of Catholics in voting, housing and employment. Their views will then be expanded in relation to the themes of nationalism, identity, power, religion and social class. Next, the issue of gender discrimination of Catholic women will be discussed. Lastly, how the conflict of Northern Ireland has weakened in recent years will be investigated through Miller’s longlinear analysis which identifies the generational changes of social mobility in Northern Ireland. Throughout this essay theorist’s ideas and methods will also be compared and contrasted and several key concepts will be explored in relation to the Northern Ireland conflict, sociologically. The issue of Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland has been debated by theorists, Hewitt and O’Hearn. Both theorists argue over the importance of Catholic discrimination as a factor of the Northern Ireland conflict. Hewitt (1985) argues against the conventional view supported by O’Hearn (1987) which claims Catholic discrimination (housing, voting and employment) led to the Northern Ireland conflict is wrong and instead the violence was caused by Irish nationalism. O’Hearn argues Catholic claims of discrimination were accurate. O’ Hearn rejects Hewitt’s claim that nationalism was a much stronger force in the Catholic population. O’Hearn’s research is adamant on proving discrimination was widespread in northern Irish and British policy. Hewitt understands there is a general agreement on Catholic discrimination. He isolates the issue of gerrymandering, to see if it was undemocratic and if it affected employment and housing....
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