Political Violence in the Macrosystem: A Thematic Analysis of Northern Irish Newspapers

Master's Thesis


According to social-ecological theory, the macrosystem refers to the overarching forces that project meaning and information to society (Bronfenbrenner, 1977). Assessing individual development in contexts of political violence requires a systematic macro-level measurement. Prior research on post-accord Northern Ireland measured the macrosystem by coding news reports about peace and conflict from 2006-2011 (N = 6,082) and assessing trends in intergroup relations over time. The current study selected a sample of articles from this dataset (n = 144) and used a thematic analysis to identify the major themes comprising these trends. Reports that were coded as politically tense discussed policing and justice, memory, intractability, disruptions to family and community, othering, and violent imagery. Reports coded as positive discussed cooperation, leadership, systemic transformation, reflection, and optimism. By identifying the most salient features of political violence in the macrosystem, this study may inform future research on the processes through which macro-level factors influence individual development.


Attribute NameValues
Author Dana Townsend
Contributor E. Mark Cummings, Research Director
Contributor Laura Miller-Graff, Committee Member
Contributor Cindy Bergeman, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name Master of Arts
Defense Date
  • 2016-11-18

Submission Date 2016-12-04
  • thematic analysis

  • Northern Ireland

  • macrosystem

  • intergroup conflict

  • political violence

  • newspaper data

  • social ecology

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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