Social cohesion and the notion of 'suspect communities': A study of the experiences and impacts of being 'suspect' for Irish communities and Muslim communities in Britain

Hickman, M. J., Thomas, L., Nickels, H. C. & Silvestri, S. (2012). Social cohesion and the notion of 'suspect communities': A study of the experiences and impacts of being 'suspect' for Irish communities and Muslim communities in Britain. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 5(1), pp. 89-106. doi: 10.1080/17539153.2012.659915

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Abstract

In this article, we consider how the practice of conceiving of groups within civil society as 'communities' meshes with conceptualisations of certain populations as 'suspect' and consider some of the impacts and consequences of this for particular populations and for social cohesion. We examine how Irish and Muslim people in Britain have become aware of and have experienced themselves to be members of 'suspect communities' in relation to political violence and counterterrorism policies from 1974 to 2007 and investigate the impacts of these experiences on their everyday lives. The study focuses on two eras of political violence. The first coincides with the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) bombing campaigns in England between 1973 and 1996, when the perpetrators were perceived as 'Irish terrorists'; and the second since 2001, when, in Britain and elsewhere, the main threat of political violence has been portrayed as stemming from people who are assumed to be motivated by extreme interpretations of Islam and are often labelled as 'Islamic terrorists'. We outline why the concept of 'suspect communities' continues to be analytically useful for examining: the impact of 'bounded communities' on community cohesion policies; the development of traumatogenic environments and their ramifications; and for examining how lessons might be learnt from one era of political violence to another, especially as regards the negative impacts of practices of suspectification on Irish communities and Muslim communities. The research methods included discussion groups involving Irish and Muslim people. These demonstrated that with the removal of discourses of suspicion the common ground of Britain's urban multiculture was a sufficient basis for sympathetic exchanges. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Studies on Terrorism in 2012, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17539153.2012.659915
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of International Politics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/14097

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