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By Desmond Bell

Over the past two decades, a sequence of teen generations have come of age in strife-torn Ulster. children advance a feeling of ethnic wisdom - as Ulster Protestant or Irish Catholic - in a scenario of political quandary and sectarian disagreement. utilizing ethnographic tools, Desmond Bell explores the subcultural global of younger Loyalists and examines the position of sweet sixteen cultural practices within the replica of ethnic identification and within the reconstruction of culture in Irish society.

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Example text

Loyalism, like other forms of political populism, 'masks the differentiation within itself by using or imposing a common set of symbols' (Cohen, 1985). The erosion of Protestant community Loyalism today is however finding it harder to mask the fractures within the Protestant community. Class tensions and generational differences are increasingly manifesting themselves within the Unionist body politic. A specifically Protestant sense of community, which on historically particular occasions is expressed within Loyalist ideology in the form of an asserted ethnic identity - 'the Protestant people' - is under attack on three fronts in the contemporary period.

Whatever the limitations of this typology of social change in explaining the uneven development of capitalist industrialization in Ireland, this sociological approach has certainly supported a particular view of youth culture in Ireland. Youth culture is seen as being in a relation of dissonance and disjunction from 'traditional' values. For example, it is held that it is rural youth's apparent receptiveness to the 'urban values' and material aspirations of industrial society, diffused by means of the mass media and tourism, that spells the 'eclipse' of the traditional communality held to be characteristic of the Irish countryside.

The late arrival in Ireland of the post-war boom and, more generally, the uneven character of its capitalist industrialization, undoubtedly led to a situation where the conflict between rural cultural traditions and the lifestyle of urban consumer capitalism was posed more starkly than in many other European countries. In the Irish Republic, large-scale industrialization involving multinational investment did not really get under way until the early 1960s. Economic and social change has been telescoped into an extremely short time span.

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