Consociational power sharing is increasingly gaining ground, right around the world, as a means for resolving political conflict in divided societies. In this volume, edited by Rupert Taylor, nineteen internationally-respected scholars engage in a lively debate about the merits of the theory underlying this approach.
The volume focuses specifically on one of the leading cases under the global spotlight, the Northern Ireland conflict, and brings together the most prominent proponents and opponents of consociationalism. Northern Ireland’s transition from war to peace is seen by consociationalists as flowing from the historic Belfast Agreement of 1998, and specifically from the Agreement’s consociational framework. The Northern Ireland case is marketed by consociationalists as representing best practice, and as providing a template for ending conflicts in other parts of the world. However, as this volume interrogates, on what grounds, and to what extent, can such a positive reading be upheld?
Taken as a whole, this volume, structured as a symposium around the highly-influential argument of John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, offers comparative, engaging, and critical insight into how political theory can contribute to the creation of a better world.
Consociational Theory is an important text for anyone with an interest in political theory, conflict resolution in divided societies, or Irish politics.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Promise of Consociational Theory Rupert Taylor Part 1: Argument 1. Power Shared after the Death of Thousands John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary Part 2: Commentaries 2. Recognition, Equality, Difference: Achieving Democracy in Northern Ireland Shane O’Neill 3. Consociationalism and the Wider Peace Process Adrian Guelke 4. Peace by Design? Towards "Complex Power Sharing" Stefan Wolff 5. Implementing Consociation in Northern Ireland John Coakley 6. Ethnic Party Competition and the Dynamics of Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland Paul Mitchell and Geoffrey Evans 7. Consociationalism and the Creation of a Shared Future for Northern Ireland Stephen Farry 8. Consociational Government: Inside the Northern Ireland Executive Rick Wilford 9. In Search of the Consociational "Spirit of Accommodation"Jürg Steiner 10. A Culture of Power-Sharing Michael Kerr 11. From Consociationalism to Interculturalism Robin Wilson 12. Squaring some Vicious Circles: Transforming the Political in Northern Ireland John Cash 13. Sunningdale for Slow Learners? Towards a Complexity Paradigm Adrian Little 14. Progressive Integration (and Accommodation, too)Ian O’Flynn 15. Ways of Seeing? Consociationalism and Constitutional Law Theory John Morison 16. Debating the Agreement: Beyond a Communalist Dynamic? Liam O’Dowd 17. The Injustice of a Consociational Solution to the Northern Ireland Problem Rupert Taylor Part 3: Response 18. Under Friendly and Less Friendly Fire John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary
Rupert Taylor is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
'Power-sharing theory develops from its constructive as well as its negative critics. This volume represents a wonderful continuation of the debate about consociational (power-sharing) theory. This theory had already undergone significant changes by some of the scholars who reformulated it in political science in the 1960s and the 1970s – including Gerhard Lehmbruch, Jürg Steiner, Luc Huyse, and myself. I am very pleased that this superb new book, focused on the work of John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, continues to debate highly significant adjustments and refinements. It is a splendid milestone in the development of consociational theory.'
Arend Lijphart, Research Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
'Rupert Taylor has put together a set of essays that crystallize the controversies surrounding consociationalism. This is bound to be an important and controversial collection.'
Donald L. Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science, Duke University
'A timely, stimulating, and well-written exchange. Consociational Theory offers an illuminating debate about the value of power-sharing as the answer to Northern Ireland’s divisions, and, more broadly, to other societies entertaining power-sharing as a solution to deep divisions. It should be read by lay readers and specialists alike.'
Michael MacDonald, Professor of Political Science, Williams College, Massachusetts