Despite a decline in membership in recent decades the Orange Order remains one of the largest and most significant organisations within civil society in Northern Ireland, representing a significant proportion of the Protestant population. The Orange Order claims a moral and political rationale to opposition to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and many of the political consequences that have followed. Drawing upon a large membership survey of the Orange institution (the first such survey ever undertaken), and abetted by in-depth semi-structured interviews, this paper examines core political and social attitudes of Orange Order members in a post-conflict environment. It identifies core discourses on offer within Orangeism, and how these structure responses to contemporary events. It concludes that the maintenance of “traditional” discourses within the Orange Order (seen by its critics as a barrier to the modernisation of unionism) may be key to its endurance against the odds in a changing political context and increasingly secularized world.

Author Bio(s)

James W. McAuley is Professor of Political Sociology and Irish Studies in the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield. He completed two major projects on Orangeism (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) and former paramilitaries (funded by the Leverhulme rust) in Northern Ireland in 2008. He is the author of An Introduction to Politics, State and Society (Sage, 2003) and an acknowledged expert on unionism and loyalism in Northern Ireland, having published widely in this field. E-mail: j.w.mcauley@hud.ac.uk.

Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool. He is Chair of the Youth Citizenship Commission and President of the UK Political Studies Association. Professor Tonge completed Leverhulme and ESRC projects on the Northern Ireland conflict in 2008. Recent books include Northern Ireland (Polity, 2006); The New Northern Irish Politics (Palgrave 2005) and Sinn Fein and the SDLP (Hurst/O‟Brien 2005, with Gerard Murray). Recent articles include items in Political Psychology, Political Studies, Electoral Studies, Party Politics and Terrorism and Political Violence. Email: J.Tonge@liverpool.ac.uk.


1998 Good Friday Agreement, Orange Order, Northern Ireland, political discourse

Publication Date






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.