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Exclusion amid Inclusion

Dr Timofey Agarin outlines the 'Exclusion amid Inclusion' project, looking at the exclusion of non-dominant minorities in post-conflict consociational arrangements.

Dr Timofey Agarin, blogpost title slide

This project identifies a central problem in the theory and practice of democracy in divided societies: the systematic exclusion of Others. Defining the exclusion-amid-inclusion (EAI) dilemma of consociational power-sharing, whereby in including the main groups to the conflict it works to exclude those beyond these groups. The project offers the first systematic conceptualization of positionality of individuals who do not identify with any one of the recognized ethnic communities in Northern Ireland (protestant/ catholic), who identify primarily with another ethnic group (eg newcomers, members of Chinese, African, Indian communities, Irish Travellers etc), and those who identify primarily with ideological concerns (eg environmental and socialist preferences) when participating in social and political life.

Consociational power-sharing is a leading strategy for ending civil wars. Despite its contribution to peace and stability, there is a risk that the adoption of consociationslism may result in the exclusion of non-dominant groups. My team has conducted over 100 semi-structured interviews between 2017 and 2020 six countries, all of which emerged from decades’ worth of ethnic conflict through international and regionally mediated peace agreements: Lebanon (Taif Accords, 1989), Bosnia & Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Accords, 1995), Northern Ireland (Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, 1998), (Arusha Accords, 2000), North Macedonia (Ohrid Agreement, 2001), and Kosovo (Ahtisaari Plan, 2007).

Drawing from theories of constitutional design, peacebuilding, democratisation, and ethnonational accommodation, the outputs outline the trade-offs that power-sharing faces in war-to-peace transitions and the implications for non-dominant groups. We articulate what we see as a central problem with contemporary power-sharing arrangements, a phenomenon we call the ‘exclusion amid inclusion’ dilemma. That is, for power-sharing to create stability and pacify the dominant groups, it must marginalise non-dominant groups. These are groups who were neglected in the original design of power-sharing institutions, who remain on the sidelines of postconflict politics, and who face major institutional constraints on their representation and participation in the power-sharing arrangement.

Using ‘exclusion amid inclusion’ as an analytical lens, we explain how different types of individuals and groups are affected by the EAI dilemma, the varying strategies they adopt to navigate power-sharing frameworks and the potential routes out of this normative and empirical puzzle witnessed in Northern Ireland among other cases. The academic outputs listed above lay out a challenge for scholars to build on this conceptualization and address the EAI dilemma in future research and signpost avenues for societal actors to engage with these issues more effectively.

Research papers from this ESRC project have included:

Timofey Agarin, Allison McCulloch & Cera Murtagh (2018) Others in Deeply Divided Societies: A Research Agenda, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 24:3, 299-310,

Agarin, T. (2020). The limits of inclusion: Representation of minority and non-dominant communities in consociational and liberal democracies. International Political Science Review, 41(1), 15–29.

Agarin, T., & McCulloch, A. (2020). How power-sharing includes and excludes non-dominant communities: Introduction to the special issue. International Political Science Review, 41(1), 3–14.

Dr Timofey Agarin
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

Recommended reference for this page:

Agarin, T. 2021. Exclusion amid inclusion. Blog for Queen's on Ethnic Minorities in Northern Ireland.