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Patrick Flack, Postgraduate Research Student

PhD Student Patrick FlackContact Details


Office: 4th floor PhD office

Year: 1st

Project Details

First Supervisor: Dr Mirona Gheorghiu

Second Supervisor: Dr Dominic Bryan (School of Irish Studies)

PhD Title: Identity Change amongst Loyalist Paramilitary Organisations in Northern Ireland

Summary of Project: The scope of this project is to investigate the question of identity change amongst loyalist paramilitary organisations, one of the less rigorously studied groups in the aftermath of the conflict. The case of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland is particularly relevant given the dramatic change between the function they performed during the Troubles and their current one. Although the main condition that has justified their existence (armed conflict) is no longer in place, psychological membership to an organisation is difficult to give up especially when dictated from outside the group. Instead, group members are more likely to engage in a process of re-defining their group and, hence, the meaning of their identity.

The project seeks to understand how former members of paramilitary organisations re-construct their identity as a process of negotiation between the representations of the past and the present. The project brings together psychological and anthropological insights into identity dynamics, nostalgia, continuity and leadership.

In-depth interviews and focus groups with (former) members of loyalist paramilitary organisations will be the main data collection method.

Research Cluster: Identities, Groups, and Social Change (Centre for Research in Political Psychology)

Research Interests

Peace and Conflict studies, conflict transformation, nostalgia and continuity, social memory, group identity.


Flack, P. (2013, August). Identity Change amongst former members of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Poster presented at the BPS Social Psychology Section Annual Conference, University of Exeter.

Flack, P. (2013, September). Identity Change amongst former members of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Oral presentation at the 4th Annual Psychology Postgraduate Conference, Queen's University Belfast.