"One Man, One Vote - One Family, One House": An Examination of Social Housing in Londonderry, 1945-1975

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The Ohio State University

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This research focuses specifically on the Irish city of Londonderry, and examines public housing discrimination within the city and its effects on tensions between Protestant and Catholic residents. I explore geographical and statistical data to shape the economic background of the topic, namely, whether public housing was concentrated in specific regions of the town and the extent of the income gap present between the two groups. To give the project added depth, I also pursue the lived experience of housing discrimination during the Troubles by citizens of Derry: their memory of conditions, how this memory compares to the historical reality, and whether tensions in housing still continue today. With this combination of hard data and personal accounts, I scrutinize the social effects of this particular grievance in relation to the broader conflict in Ireland, and hopefully contribute to academic thinking about how such dimensions of social tension may contribute to similar conflicts. Sufficient resolution of this question requires a primary-source driven approach. I draw from archives in Ireland to acquire data related to public housing and its distribution throughout Derry City. I also draw on methods of oral history developed by Maurice Halbwachs to further my understanding of the social effects of this aspect of life in Derry and to understand how the progression of time may have shaped memory of these conditions. Through this method, I examine memory as a function of social and personal influences, taking into account that memory of an event changes over time. Sufficient evidence, both primary and secondary, indicates that the structure and geography of social housing within the city was a significant factor in the organization of social unrest and the commencement of the civil rights movement that eventually led to the Troubles.


Honorable Mention at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum


Housing, Northern Ireland, The Troubles, Civil Rights