This fascinating Exploratory Study was conducted by _________________ in _____  and is extremely relevant in understanding and preventing youth suicides.  We appreciate Dr. Niall Mac Allister, President and Founder of Friends Without Borders, in providing a copy.  Although it is a study running over thirty pages, it has been condensed to primarily include information related to Northern Ireland and the general scope of the study.  Should the reader wish a copy of the entire report, please send an e-mail to:  Terry@thetrakker.com -

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS FROM FOUR ETHNOPOLITICAL CONFLICT ZONES PERCEPTIONS OF SELF AND COUNTRY: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

This exploratory comparative case study examines hopes and fears for self and country of 300 students attending university in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.  Students report living in stressful societies where ethnopolitical and state violence were the norm.  The results of this qualitative study indicate that while the young people are optimistic about their life changes, they are concerned that the conflicts could re-ignite and spiral out of control.  In particular, the students images indicate the importance of the self-society relationship and that these young adults relish the challenge of being productive citizens in their post-conflict societies.

Introduction

 

The end of the Cold War marked turbulent changes within the international milieu (Crocker, Hampson, and Aall, 2001). The international community witnessed an escalated proliferation of ethnopolitical conflicts (Darby, 2001)......

 

Hence, young people who grow-up in protracted ethnopolitical conflicts where riots, shootings, and bombings are an everyday occurrence are socialized to perceive violence as normal (Cohn & Goodwin-Gill, 1994; Raviv et al., 1999). Researchers who study political violence and its impact on young people have noted that there is a cycle of violence that becomes perpetual in protracted community conflict contexts (Garbarino et al., 1992; Raviv et al., 1999). Young people begin to accept and expect violence, and to model it after repeated exposure (Cairns, 1996). A violent environment provides aggressive role models and may influence young people to behave aggressively (Garbarino et al., 1992). Repeated exposure to political violence increases the risk that young adults will engage in future violence and antisocial behavior.  During their formative years, young people can learn to accept violence as the norm to solve problems, which becomes difficult to change in adulthood (Byrne, 1997b). If violence is both accepted and expected part of living in a society, it may impact the moral and political development of young people (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Coles, 1986). Nevertheless, research demonstrates that most young people have the cognitive capacity to cope with the violence providing the necessary parental and communal support is present (Garbarino & Kostelny, 1993). Young people are socialized by the media, parents, peers, schools, churches, and political and military institutions into a sociocultural environment that shapes their individual experiences, and molds their ideas about violence and peace (Byrne, 1997ab, 2000; Punmaki, 1999). Importantly however, these young people can also learn to both cope and develop resiliency skills through the mentoring of parents, family, friends, and community (Brett & McCallin, 1996; Cairns, 1996; Garbarino & Kostelny, 1997).  It is the process of building such skills that needs more attention and concern..........

 

Scant research has focused on young people caught up in the cataclysmic changes in their societies.  Therefore, it is important to study the perceptions and experiences of young people in places of conflict, particularly university students, who can be characterized as likely leaders in their country’s future.  Insights into the political worldviews of young people have implications for policy intended to affect intergroup tolerance and break intergenerational conflict (Byrne, 1997a).  The present study sought to provide insight into this arena.  Consequently, what do the university students from Bosnia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka in this study hope for themselves, and their countries? What impact has the changing societal context had on their perceptions of the nation, and global milieu they are growing-up in? Young adults experiences in their local communities are important for social change and justice. It is important to examine how young people look at conflict and politics to understand how they may behave as adults. How do young people understand situations of violence of which they are a part? Young adults can identify the probable causes of ethnopolitical conflicts, propose as ways to resolve the violence, and build democratic values in post-conflict societies..........

Research Study

The research subjects (N=300) attended largely integrated universities in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. By country there were 89 participants from Bosnia, 73 from Northern Ireland, 100 from South Africa, and 38 from Sri Lanka. There were 152 males and 147 females in the convenient and clustered sample of the total population of young people in the eight universities. The age range for the group was between 17 and 57 with 93 percent of the sample in the 18-24-age bracket.

The students from all four regions were asked the same four questions:  What are your best wishes and hopes for your personal future? (Personal Hope for the Future); What are your worst fears and worries about your personal future? (Personal Fear for the Future); What are your best wishes and hopes for the future of your country? (Country Hope for the Future); and finally; What are your worst fears and worries about the future of your country? (Country Fear for the Future).  The responses were then coded into main subjects identified inductively by recurring themes in the responses. 

 

Selected quotations from the young people’s stories are now presented not as scientific claims about their perceptions of self and country. The opportunity was given to these young adults whose voices have been excluded from previous research and policy-making to have their views on both of these issues to be seriously considered. Moreover, the respondents are different from each other by virtue of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, spatial milieu, and experience of political conflict.

 

Overall, national problems were the most common fear for the future (36.6 percent).  These concerns involved “conflict, civil war and unhappiness,” the fear that “discrimination would stop progress,” the fear of “facing a future with ethnic conflict,” and, that “the killing would not stop.”  The next major theme was self  (32.1 percent).  Responses in this category included “contracting a disease,” “failure to achieve one’s goals,” “hurting someone else,” and “loss of a loved one.”........... 

 

The Context for South African, Northern Irish, Sri Lankan, and Bosnian Youth’s Development During the Late 1990s 

 

.......The 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA), negotiated between mainstream political parties, both governments, and the representatives of rival loyalist and republican paramilitaries, has promised to usher in a period of prosperity in Northern Ireland (Dixon, 2001; Irvin, 1999). In conjunction, Track Two efforts to empower grassroots constituents from the early 1990s onward created grassroots Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that have worked to improve dialogue and reduce threat perceptions between, and among the Unionist and Nationalist communities (Byrne, 2001ab; Byrne & Carter, 1996). However, it remains clear, there is a positive relationship between living in a high-tension area in Belfast and psychological distress (Fields, 1976; Fraser, 1973; Cairns, 1996). Young Northern Irish people do understand the nature and consequences of political violence (Byrne, 1997a). Yet, young people’s political understanding is dependent on the sociopolitical milieu that they live in, and the cognitive capacity of the young people themselves (Heskin, 1980; Jahoda & Harrison, 1975; McEvoy, 2000). However, recent fragmentation of mainstream paramilitaries into estranged rogue factions coupled with punishment beatings, and the disarmament of the paramilitaries means that a cold peace now exists in Northern Ireland (Byrne, 2000, 2002). Young people continue to be exposed to an overall violent environment (McEvoy, 2000).

 

........

Given the tumultuous times that young people in each of these four ethnopolitical conflict zones have experienced, the question asked in this study was how do young people in each of these four ethnic conflict regions view themselves and their countries during this era of socio-political turmoil and change?  Little research has focused on how youth are connected to society as it experiences violence and political transformation. The purpose of this exploratory study, therefore, was to examine a sample of university students perceptions of themselves and their countries during an important transition in their countries’ history—peace agreements in three of the four regions, and the continuation of political violence in the other, Sri Lanka. Hedley Cantril’s (1965) Self Anchoring Striving Scale was used to evaluate the participant’s assessment and perception of self and country. The methodology is now discussed.

 

Methodology

 

We decided to compare and explore university student’s attitudes toward self and country in four diverse ethnopolitical conflict zones. Thus, between the Summers of 1996 and 1998, 262 students were surveyed in classroom social gathering locations such as dining halls, and unstructured settings like social halls at eight universities in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. In addition, 38 students were surveyed in a colleague’s political science class at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka during the fall of 1998.  The data set is unique; the sample is convenient, relatively small, and the findings cannot be generalized to all college students or indeed young people in all four ethnic conflict zones. However, the intention of this exploratory comparative case study was to explore and compare university student’s attitudes toward self and country in four diverse ethnopolitical conflicts.

The research subjects (N=300) attended largely integrated universities in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. By country there were 89 participants from Bosnia, 73 from Northern Ireland, 100 from South Africa, and 38 from Sri Lanka.

 

There were 152 males and 147 females in the convenient and clustered sample of the total population of young people in the eight universities. The age range for the group was between 17 and 57 with 93 percent of the sample in the 18-24-age bracket.

The Cantril (1965) Self Anchoring Striving Scale’s qualitative and open-ended questions were also administered to the university students. Self Anchoring Striving Scale identify’s each subject’s overall picture or cognitive boundaries of their life and world expressed in their own terms (Cantril, 1965). The students from all four regions were asked the same four questions:  What are your best wishes and hopes for your personal future? (Personal Hope for the Future); What are your worst fears and worries about your personal future? (Personal Fear for the Future); What are your best wishes and hopes for the future of your country? (Country Hope for the Future); and finally; What are your worst fears and worries about the future of your country? (Country Fear for the Future).  The responses were then coded into main subjects identified inductively by recurring themes in the responses. 

 

Selected quotations from the young people’s stories are now presented not as scientific claims about their perceptions of self and country. The opportunity was given to these young adults whose voices have been excluded from previous research and policy-making to have their views on both of these issues to be seriously considered. Moreover, the respondents are different from each other by virtue of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, spatial milieu, and experience of political conflict.

 

Findings

Our respondents interpretations of self and country are reflected in their stories. Themes and sub themes emerged inductively from the data. A content analysis of the students paragraphs on hopes and fears for self and country identified their major areas of concern. The participants’ responses to the four qualitative questions were then classified into central substantive themes (for example, education, and peace needs) using the coding system of Richard and Margaret Braunguart’s (1995) study of university students in South Africa[i]. The most frequently mentioned themes were ranked for the total sample. The students’ responses are paraphrased or directly quoted, and are presented representing their hopes and fears for self and country.

 

The following discussion centers somewhat selectively on the prevalence and salience of images that the respondents found important and used extensively. In this section we discuss what young adults in the sample found to be salient about their hopes and fears for self and country. The findings are more about telling the stories these students share with us about how they felt the way they did given the environment they were living in at the time than it is about generalizing or making broad-based assumptions. The participant’s responses to each of the four questions are intended to provide comparative information about how university students in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Sri Lanka perceived themselves and their countries between 1996 and 1998. We now turn to the research findings.


 


[i] The coding procedures and subsequent findings were submitted to the Montgomery and Crittenden (1977) test.  The responses were independently coded by the researchers, who then verified these independent findings against one another. 

 

 

Personal Hope and Personal Fear for the Future

(OUR NOTE:  Quotes are ONLY from students from Northern Ireland, however the summaries provide additional insight into the overall feelings of all students surveyed)

 

The most common hope for the future was self (47 percent)  Examples of self included being “able to achieve one’s goals and be respected,” to “be happy and have peace in one’s life,” and to “be healthy and feel fulfilled.” The next major theme (22.6 percent) to emerge from the data was national, which included hopes for the nation, community, and political desires.  Responses included “avoiding ethnic violence and helping others,” “the end of racial discrimination,” to “be able to help with the country’s problems,” that “there be equal opportunities for everyone,” and “peace and a sense of security.” 

 

Overall, national problems were the most common fear for the future (36.6 percent).  These concerns involved “conflict, civil war and unhappiness,” the fear that “discrimination would stop progress,” the fear of “facing a future with ethnic conflict,” and, that “the killing would not stop.”  The next major theme was self  (32.1 percent).  Responses in this category included “contracting a disease,” “failure to achieve one’s goals,” “hurting someone else,” and “loss of a loved one.” 

 

1. Personal Hope: Self
A dominant image held by our respondents of personal hope was one of self-development.

Roisin is a 20 year-old Catholic student from Belfast, Northern Ireland who also wishes for a stable future for herself and her family. This is what she had to say on the issue:

ROISIN:  Personally, I hope to make a life for myself, which is stable and secure, emotionally and financially. I wish for peace, but more than that I wish for accommodation and dialogue.

These assumptions about self exhibit a degree of awareness of the importance of creating a viable and stable future. These respondents are also aware of the significance of finishing their university education as an important precursor to finding professional employment. They highlight the necessity of living in harmony with others, and they illustrate the importance of family and community in the development of self. It would appear that the experience of these young people has been a major determinant in their attitudes toward understanding who they are as individuals and where they want to be in their future societies. They also suggest that individual values are critical in the development of self and society. Their self-desires strongly involved wanting to achieve personal goals.  The respondents also cited the desire for a bright future with success; they wanted to enjoy life and have happiness. 

 

There was a strong emphasis on happiness and success, and in achieving personal goals.  The respondents also cited the desire for a bright future with success, and to enjoy life and have happiness.  Further, the theme of self was represented by the desire to live peacefully, to have freedom, live free of problems and to avoid violence and conflict.  Respondents also cited the desire to achieve goals and have success, and to live a “normal life.”  These students wanted to have happiness and peace in their lives, but also cited the importance of health and the desire to live a long life.

 

2. Personal Hope: National

Many of the respondents have steadfast premises about their personal hopes for their countries future. Tom is a 29 year-old White male from the Cape in South Africa. This is what he had to say about his personal hope for the nation:

  

Niall a 23 year-old male from Belfast, Northern Ireland wants the political violence to end.

 

NIALL: I want a just political solution so that I can realize or fulfill some of my expectations and aid others. I wish for health, happiness, and well-being.

 

The national theme was represented by the desire to promote, assist in developing, and to live in peace.  To realize a society characterized by justice, without crime.  Also cited in this category were the desires to live without racial discrimination and to live in harmony.  There were some more political hopes for their national environment, such as the desire for socialism. Peace was also a highly represented desire for the environment of these students.  Peace was characterized with wanting to help the nation, have reciprocal relations, and to be a good citizen.  Peace meant avoiding violence and living in harmony. The national theme was also represented with notions of justice, freedom, security and trust and safety, and the desire for the end of conflict. These respondents also cited the desire for environments that their children could grow up and develop in peace –the desire to have a safe and peaceful place to raise children.  While success was also cited, notions of tolerance and the desire to live free of prejudice were also important to these respondents.

 3. Personal Fear: Self

Here are some examples of responses by our university students who perceive personal fears for their future.

Rodger, a 19 year-old Protestant male from Newry, Northern Ireland is cognizant of the fact that the conflict could escalate in Northern Ireland.

 

RODGER: I am afraid to get involved in the Troubles here. I am afraid to die. I don’t want to be jobless. I hate the madness of Northern Ireland. It could become a blood-bath like Lebanon.

 

While there were various concerns about self-future of the respondents, among the most recurring theme was the fear of death – presumably the fear of violent (as opposed to natural) death.  Related to this fear was the concern of failing to achieve goals, or to complete goals.  Presumably, this failure would stem from a premature death due to violence or conflict, or a failure to achieve goals and dreams due to other societal dynamics.  Fears were also expressed as a lack of success for the future, coupled with a lack of happiness or the loss of a loved one.  Lack of success was exemplified by, for example, failure to achieve goals and everything that one is working for is destroyed. 

 
4. Personal Fear: National Problems

The perception of personal fears for the future of their countries is revealed by the following respondents. These students suggest that a renewed escalation of violence within their countries could impact their personal happiness.

 

Nuala, a 24 year-old female from Derry, Northern Ireland believes that if the Troubles resume that people will live in fear of their lives.

NUALA: That the political situation will become worse and that fear will be the main way by which we live our lives. We wont have a normal life.

 

The second major personal fear reflected national concerns, which included violence and conflict potentially affecting future happiness. The respondents suggested that peace could never be achieved, and that the killing would never stop. Further, they feared being violated and intimidated, and that a breakdown of society would ensure that events were beyond their control. While the way individual respondents articulated their responses varied, the concern of violence and conflict, and a general sense of perhaps lack of control for the future were exemplified in their stories. The young adults major fears were conflict, war and violence, which were articulated by responses such as worries for dictatorship, and a lack of peace. National problems also appear to affect individual illness and suffering, however these responses seemed largely connected to another major concern--the worry for the outbreak of a new war and a new conflict. 

 

Country Hope and Fear for the Future

When asked to identify what their hope was for their country, 40.4 percent of the students identified positive peace as important to them.  Responses included “having a country without conflict,” “the presence of a ceasefire and lasting settlement,” “the end of conflict and hate,” and “lasting peace with justice.”  The next major theme was political in nature (22.3 percent).  Responses included “having a democracy,” “freedom, progress, equality and unity;” and finally, “independence.” 

 

Over half (54.1 percent) of all respondents named war, divisiveness, and conflict as their main fears for their country’s future.  The responses for this category included “the fear of chaos, civil war,” that “the conflict would not stop,” “continued violence and terrorism,” “a divided country and poverty,” and “death.”  The next theme to emerge from the data was political problems (12.8 percent), which included “the fear of abuses of power,” that “political issues will never be resolved,” that “I have no say in the country’s political future,” and “outside world influences our politics.” 

 
1. Country Hope: Positive Peace

Some of the respondents hope for the future of their country is that the conflict is not intractable and positive peace can be achieved.

Seamus, an 18 year-old Catholic from Belfast, Northern Ireland believed that lasting peace could be built in Northern Ireland if a united Ireland could be built outside of the European Union so that Protestants would feel more comfortable living in that political unit.

SEAMUS: We need a united Ireland accepted by all. The restrengthening of Christianity and the prevention of abortion being introduced must happen as well as wiping out Belfast’s drug problems. That Ireland and its people wake-up to the foolish bureaucracy and terrible greed of the European Union and leave it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, respondents from all four ethnopolitical conflict zones cited hopes for their country’s future that included peace.  Hopes of peace were accompanied by desires for equality, freedom, tolerance and a country without conflict. In their stories, respondents also mentioned harmony, co-existence, reconciliation, compromise and cooperation. Issues of economic growth and desires to end the conflict and stop violence were also represented in their stories.

2. Country Hope: Political

The viewpoints of the following respondents on their future hope for their country highlights that a fair and just political solution can be found to the conflict

Catriona, a 19 year-old  Catholic female from Ballymena, Northern Ireland believes that a strong and just democracy must be created for all citizens in Northern Ireland..

CATRIONA: To remove the gun out of politics. To create a true democracy with equal rights and equal allocation of jobs. The removal of second class citizen status.

 

It is reasonable to conclude that these students envision a free society where everyone will have equal political access. They actively advocate that political change is possible. This may suggest that contact with other ethnic groups at their universities is affecting how these young people view the possibility for peaceful change, and how they feel that they can make a positive contribution to a more peaceful society.

 
3. Country Fear: War, Divisiveness and Conflict

Here are some examples of university students responses about how they fear that their countries future could be destroyed by war, divisiveness and conflict.

Cathal is a 19 year-old Catholic male from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. He firmly believes that the protracted conflict in Northern Ireland will continue unabated.

 

CATHAL: Continued partition, growth of sectarianism, stagnant economy, continued IRA and Loyalist violence, continued oppression and sectarianism, lack of pluralism.

 

Respondents in all four countries raised fears for the future of the country around the theme of conflict. In their stories the respondents cited conflict and civil war as their main concerns.  The students were concerned that the violence would continue, escalate, and that more people would die. The students also reflected that their country would be divided as war, terrorism, crime and violence escalated out of control. Connected to these perceptions were their images of poverty and hate as key concerns for continued violence and unrest. 

 

4. Country Fear: Political Problems

It is interesting to note that when the political images of students from across the four ethnopolitical conflicts in this study are compared clear similarities emerge. A large number of students identify political problems as a fear for their country’s future.

 

Elizabeth, a 20 year-old Protestant female from Larne in Northern Ireland believes that the political problems won't be solved because the politicians do not want to compromise.

 

ELIZABETH: The political problems will never be solved, only a political compromise is an option. The politicians need to wise up! I live in hope that one day an agreement can be found to suit all that are involved, so that the majority who can already live in harmony, can do so. We should be able to accept and respect other beliefs. If everyone was able to do this, the political conflict could be tackled.

 

The respondents were afraid that they would lose what has been achieved thus far, or that they would not be able to solve the political problems facing them.  They feared that the chance of achieving peace had been lost and that political power was being abused while they were losing their political freedom. In addition, the students worried that there was no political progress in resolving the conflict and that the struggle for peace would fail. Respondents also cited several political concerns, which included having little control over outside world influences.

 

Discussion

The unpredictability and prolonged nature of political violence is stressful and has a profound impact on the moral and political development of some young people in that violence becomes a “way of life” for them (Polkinghorn & Byrne, 2001). Young people who like the danger, prestige, and excitement of political violence model themselves on adults and become more aggressive to cope with the violence, and are politicized into the loyal ingroup (Cairns, 1996; Raviv, Oppenheimer, & Bar-Tal, 1999). Others remain unscathed, experience the violence differently, and develop coping skills through the support of family and community (McEvoy, 2000). As the college students from all four ethnic conflict zones in the 1990s scrutinized their respective countries, they remained optimistic and hopeful about themselves and their county’s potential future. The age cohort felt that there was hope for their personal development in a peaceful political milieu. However, they also feared that their personal ambitions would be curbed in a society with national problems, especially if that society was in war and turmoil.

Hence, the young people in this study perceive they are initiated into the civic culture of their respective communities of which they are members. They illustrate political sophistication in their analysis of self and specific problems within their own countries, and about their ability to contribute to solving those problems. This general contrast between collective and self, which comes up in both the relative deprivation literature, and group vs. group interest literature, is an important theme in political psychology.

The effects of war on the social fabric of these lives and through the destruction of social networks, and the witnessing of violent acts, raise the question, can they adapt to a peaceful society once the war is over? The results of this exploratory comparative study of college students from four different ethnic conflict zones with diverse experiences growing-up, coming from diverse socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic contexts indicate their perceived national tensions and goals were relatively similar. The differences in responses that at times varied by country may, in part, be due to the stage at which each country is in the peace process. 

 

The principal finding of this study is the gap between the students’ optimistic perceptions for their own personal future and the pessimistic expectations for the future of their countries. The fact that the students are focusing on self or personal issues while also feeling that the country is falling apart shows that they are trying to maintain a personal identity in an effort to be stable. Making the fundamental shift to adulthood and forging the self-society relationship was found to be critical for these young people preparing to undertake their roles as productive citizens in new democracies and post-conflict societies. Most of the students in this study were optimistic about themselves, and hoped to find a niche in society as productive citizens with meaningful lives.

 

Although the students looked to their societies for jobs and careers, they were cautious about their country’s future, viewing the legacy of their past with suspicion in impacting their societies’ prospects for the future. They were especially concerned about the escalation of conflict and resumption of civil war, the political workings of a new government, and lack of job opportunities.

Coming of age during the tumultuous political turmoil of the 1980s and 1990s, the high personal fear of a return to war and violence may reflect the socialization experience of the various ethnic groups. Conditioned to expect political violence as “normal,” these same young students may have to some extent experienced the “transgenerational transmission of trauma” as connected to “time collapse” where past, present, and future commingle within the same time realm (Volkan, 1998). Moreover, the fact that 53.5 percent of the sample seem detached from politics and are slightly cautious about the peaceful transition to a democratic society may indicate that some of these young people may be slightly alienated from the body politik and mainstream society, while others who care, and are worried about their countries are striving for socio-economic and political change. These students appear to have a strong desire to find a place in society as meaningful adults, and to create a world in which they hope to live. Many students in the study wanted to transition to adult life where career, financial security, family, and happiness goals could be readily achieved. There is a decline in how these college students perceive the importance of or their dependence on country or external needs. In other words, their identity is not so dependent on government and politics. These respondents are looking for other hopes besides politics to make their lives better and achieve success. They have a more “constructive story” to tell, and to act out (Senehi, 1996, 2000).

 

Perhaps this decreased sense of dependence upon, politics indicates a shift in how people are seeing themselves and their future. These young people seem to be frustrated with traditional political avenues. Yet, they are anxious about their future and are aware of the need for an overall societal improvement or the creation of positive peace. Importantly, any political vacuum could be filled by paramilitaries or other extremist elements in all four societies. Therefore, the question then becomes what needs to be done to create a positive outcome for these young people to become fully politically engaged in civil society – under conditions that make sense for them.

 

The students surveyed were from a unique age cohort that had experienced political violence within each of the four ethnopolitical conflict regions in this study. War zones seriously damage the world-views of some young people (Byrne, 1997ab, 2000; Dodge and Raundalen 1987, 1991) while others are resilient and successfully cope with the political violence (Cairns, 1996). These youth are embarking as young adults in the twenty-first century in their respective countries where new political institutions and external economic aid promise socio-economic, and political improvements in the case of Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and South Africa while the civil war in Sri Lanka draws to a stalemate. Consequently, it is worth investigating what impact their experiences of growing-up in the midst of war in the 1990s will have on their future lives in the twenty-first century.

 

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study indicate the need to include young people across the ethno-religious and cultural divide in the process of building a new society. Constructive inclusive mechanisms have to be found to allow young people to participate in the political and economic process, and to develop themselves through education, and by providing career opportunities.  The myriad of socio-economic and personal issues identified as important to these young people must be considered and further developed, as these issues go far beyond just political considerations.

 

The college students in this sample were politically astute and critical of their societies. A finding that echoed in other Cantril research contexts of college students who are politically sophisticated and not narcissistic (Braunguart & Braunguart, 1995, 1996). While they want to transition to adult life where career, financial security, family, and happiness goals could be readily achieved, there is a decline in how they perceive the importance of or their dependence on country or external needs. In other words, their identity is not so dependent on government and politics. These respondents are looking for other hopes besides politics to make their lives better and achieve success. They have a more “constructive story” to tell, and to act out (Senehi, 1996, 2000).

 

Much will depend on future efforts at peace in each of these four ethnopolitical regions and the actions of the adults to ensure that these young people are connected to their societies and allowed to prosper and contribute to the development of civic society - to ensure that the positive aspirations of these young people are realized, so that they may be the visionaries for a new future in their countries.

 

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the International Society of Political Psychology’s 24th Annual Scientific Meeting, July 16-19, 2002, Berlin, Germany and the Research Initiative on the Resolution of Ethnic Conflicts, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. We would like to thank Dick Braunguart, Ed Cairns, John Darby, Siobhan McEvoy, David Sears, Jessica Senehi, Roberta Sigel, Peter Suedfield, Honggang Yang, and the anonymous reviewers for Peace and Conflict Studies for their comments on earlier drafts of the paper.

 

References

Angel, B., Hjern, A., and Ingleby, D. (2001) Effects of war and organized violence on children: A study of Bosnian refugees in Sweden. American Journal of Authopsy, 71(1): 4-15.

 

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory.  New York: Prentice Hall.

 

Beriker-Atriyas , N. (1995). Mediating regional conflicts and negotiating flexibility: Peace efforts in Bosnia Herzegovina. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 54(2): 185-201.

 

Berman, H., Ford-Gilboe, M., Moutrey, B., and Cekic, S. (2001). Portraits of pain and promise: A photographc study of Bosnian youth. Canadian Journal of Nursing, 32(4): 21-41.

 

Braunguart, M., & Braunguart, R.  (1995).  Black and white South African university students’ perceptions of self and country: An exploratory study.  South African Journal of Sociology, 24, 134-148.

 

Braunguart, R, and Braunguart, M. (1996). Perception of self, the United States, and Europe: A study of upstate New York university students. Youth and Society, 27(3): 259-290.

 

Brett, R., & McCallin, M.  (1996).  Children: The invisible soldiers.  Stockholm, Sweden: Radda Barnen.

 

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

Byrne, S.  (1997a).  Growing up in a divided society: The influence of conflict on Belfast schoolchildren.  Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses.

 

Byrne, S.  (1997b).  The politics of a new era in Northern Ireland: Belfast schoolchildren’s

images of political conflict and social change.  Mind and Human Interaction, 7, 52-71.

 

Byrne, S. (1999). Northern Ireland, Israel, and South Africa at a crossroads:

Understanding intergroup conflict, peace-building, and conflict resolution. International Journal

of Group Tensions 28, 231-53.

 

Byrne, S. (2000) Belfast schoolchildren and ethnoreligious conflict in Northern Ireland. In Pat Coy and Lynne Woehrle (eds.). Social conflict and collective identity. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, pp.91-104.           

 

Byrne, S. (2000). Power Politics as Usual in Cyprus and Northern Ireland: Divided Islands and the Roles of External Ethno- Guarantors.Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 6(1):1-25.

 

Byrne, S.  (2001a).  Consociational and civic society approaches to peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. Journal of Peace Research, 38, 327-352.

 

Byrne, S. (2001b). Transformational Conflict Resolution and the Northern Ireland Conflict. International Journal on World Peace. 28(2): 3-28.

 

Byrne, S. ( 2002). Toward tractability: The 1993 South African Accord of Understanding and the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement. Irish Studies in International Affairs. Forthcoming.

 

Byrne, S. & Carter, N (1996). Social cubism: Six social forces of ethnoterritorial politics in Northern Ireland and Quebec. Peace and Conflict Studies 3, 52-72.

 

Byrne, S. &  Irvin,C. eds., (2000). Reconcilable differences: Turning points in ethnopolitical conflict. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian.

 

Cairns, E.  (1996).  Children and political violence.  Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

 

Cantril, H.  (1965).  The pattern of human concerns.  New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

 

Cohn, I., & Goodwin-Gill, G.  (1994).  Child soldiers: The role of children in armed conflicts.  New York: Clarendon/Oxford Press.

 

Crocker, Chester., Hampson, Fen Osler, & Aall, Pamela, (2001) (eds.). Turbulent peace: the challenge of managing international conflict. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.

 

Darby, John. (2001). The effects of violence on peace processes. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Process.

 

Dawes, A.  (1990).  The effects of political violence on children: A consideration of South Africa and related studies.  International Journal of Psychology, 25, 13-31.

 

Dixon, P. (2001). Northern Ireland: The politics of war and peace. New York:Palgrave.

 

Dodge, C.P., & Raundalen, M.  (1987). War, violence, and children in Uganda.  Oslo, Norway: Norwegian University Press.

 

Dodge, C.P., & Raundalen, M. (Eds.).  (1991).  Reaching children in war: Sudan, Uganda, and Mozambique.  Bergen, Norway: Sigma Forlag.

 

Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Northon.

 

Erikson, E.  (1968).  Identity, youth, and crisis.  New York: W.W. Norton.

 

Fields, R.  (1976).  Society under siege: A psychological study of Northern Ireland.  Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

 

Fraser, M.  (1973).  Children in conflict.  London, England: Secker and Walton.

 

Galtung, J.  (1996).  Peace by peaceful means: Peace and conflict, development and civilization.  London, England: Sage Publications.

 

Garbarino, J., & Kostelny, K.  (1997).  What children can tell us about living in a war zone.  In J.D. Osofsky (Ed.), Children in a violent society (pp. 32-41).  New York: Guilford Press.

 

Garbarino, J., Dubrow, N., Kostelny, K., & Pardo, C. (1992). Children in Danger: Coping with the Consequences of Community Violence.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

 

Gurr, T. (2000).People versus states: Minorities at risk in the new century. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

 

Heskin, K.  (1980).  Northern Ireland: A psychological analysis Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan.

 

Irvin, C. (1999). Militant Nationalism: Between Movement and Party in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country. Duluth, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

 

Jahoda, G., & Harrison, S.  (1975).  Belfast children: Some effects of a conflict environment.  Irish Journal of Psychology, 3, 1-19.

 

Katz, N., & Lawyer, J.  (1992). Communication and conflict resolution skills.  Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

 

Keethaponcalon , S.(2000). Understanding ethnic conflict and peace efforts in Sri Lanka: A conflict resolution perspective. In J. Uyangoda (ed.). Conflict resolution and peace studies: An introductory handbook. Colombo: Analysis Publications, pp. 78-95.

 

Keethaponcalon, S. (2001). Underage soldiers and intervention: The global challenge of violence reduction and conflict resolution. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nova Southeastern University.

 

Lieber, C. M. (1994). Making choices about conflict, security, and peacemaking Part I: Personal Perspectives. Cambridge MA: Educators for Social Responsibility.  Page 135.

 

Liberfield, D. (2002). Evaluating the contributions of track-two diplomacy to conflict termination in South Africa., 1984-1990. Journal of Peace Research, 39(3): 357-374..

 

Little, D. (1994). Sri Lanka: The invention of enmity. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

 

Mayer, J.D. & Salovey, P. (1997). What is Emotional Intelligence? In  P. Salovey and  D. Sluyter (eds.). Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence. New York: Harper Collins, pp.

 

McEvoy, S.  (2000).  Communities at peace: Catholic youth in Northern Ireland.  Journal of Peace Research, 37, 85-105.

 

McGarry, J. (1998). Political settlements in Northern Ireland and South Africa. Political Studies, xlv:853-870.

 

Minnow, M. (1999). Between vengeance and forgiveness: Facing history after genocide and mass violence. Boston: Beacon.

 

Montgomery, A.C. and K.S. Crittenden. (1977). Improving coding reliability for open-ended questions. Public Opinion Quarterly 41, 1-26.

 

Muller, A. (Ed.).  (1990). The influence of violence on children.  Cape Town, South Africa: Center for Intergroup Studies.

 

Polkinghorn, B., & Byrne, S. (2001). Between war and peace: An examination of conflict management styles in four conflict zones.  International Journal of Conflict Management 12:1, 23-46.

 

Punmaki, R. (1999). Concept formation of war and peace: A meeting point between child development and politically violent society. In A. Raviv, L. Oppenheimer, and D. Bar-Tal (eds.). How children understand war and peace: A call for international peace education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, pp. 127-146.

 

Raviv, R., Oppenheimer, L., & Bar-Tal, D. (Eds.).  (1999).  How children understand war and peace: A call for international peace education.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

 

Sahadevan, P. (1997). Resistance to resolution: Explaining the intractability of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. International Journal of Group Tensions, 27(1): 19-41.

 

Senehi, J. (1996). Language, culture and conflict: Storytelling as a matter of life and death. Mind and Human Interaction 7,150-164.

 

Senehi, J. (2000). Constructive storytelling in intercommunal conflicts: Building

community, building peace. In S. Byrne & C. Irvin, (Eds.) Reconcilable differences: Turning

points in ethnopolitical conflict, West Hartford, CT: Kumarian, pp. 96-115.

 

Senehi, Jessica. 2003. Constructive Storytelling: A Peace Process. Peace and Conflict Studies, 9(2): 41-63

 

Straker, G.  (1992).  Faces in the revolution: The psychological effects of violence on township youth in South Africa.  Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

 

Taylor, R, Cock, J, and Habib, A. (1999). Projecting peace in apartheid South Africa. Peace and Change, 24(1): 1-14.

 

Volkan, V. (1998). Blood lines: from ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism. Boulder: Westview Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Thinking and speech. In R. W. Rieber & A.S. Carton (eds.). The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky. New York: Plenum, pp. 23-45.

 

Wessells, M. (1998). Children, armed conflict and peace. Journal of Peace Research 35, 603-620.

 

Zagar, M. (2000). Yugoslavia, what went wrong? Constitutional development and collapse of a multiethnic state. In  S. Byrne and C. Irvin (eds.) Reconcilable differences: Turning points in ethnopolitical conflicts. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian, pp.127-154.