Social Cohesion on Ice in Belfast

May 27, 2019

Image by Belfast Times

Aristotle explains, "place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over and through them. We live in places, relate to others in them, die in them. Nothing we do is unplaced".Place and social cohesion therefore, are forever reliant..... with this in mind UNIFORM NOVEMBER has enjoyed reading Lepp's paper exploring  a special place and the people that use it within a context of division and unrest . A place in Belfast where social cohesion seems to exist, an urban ice-rink where religion and politics are apparently left outside the structural envelope as fans collectively enjoy their sport .... a worthwhile read

 

Division on Ice: Shared Space and Civility in Belfast

Abstract

"In Northern Ireland the Good Friday Agreement brought with it top-down political and social approaches to construct and increase intergroup contact and shared spaces in an effort to reconcile divided Nationalist and Unionist communities. In the period following the peace agreement, the Belfast Giants ice hockey team was established, and its games 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 article utilises the setting of the Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) Arena, home of the Giants, to demonstrate normalisation of interactions occurring between supporters who are willing to purchase a ticket beside someone to whom they are politically opposed. This sport and its supporters choose to enjoy the experience of the hockey game, rather than be caught in the politicised attachment of meaning expected of shared space, offering a challenge to the reconciliation-centric assumptions in post-peace agreement Belfast".(Lepp 2018)

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