Source: (2011) Victims and Offenders. 6(3): 260-274.

Northern Ireland is often viewed from the outside as one “country,” and hence not an obvious site for cross-national research. However, Northern Ireland is still a sharply divided society more than a decade on from the 1998 peace agreement. The differences between the two communities when viewed from within, however, are even more significant than first anticipated and there are sharp divisions with regards to culture, politics, history, and social context. Two particular challenges arise from research within such a context: firstly, the legitimacy and validity of findings in a society where there are many fiercely contested versions of “the truth”; and secondly, the consequences of the researcher being viewed as an “outsider.” This article will not suggest absolute answers to the challenges of cross-cultural research in a violently divided society, but rather raise points for consideration and debate. It will conclude that a cross-cultural methodology can address several weaknesses inherent in the often too generalized cross-national studies of divided societies. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).