Why has communal violence more or less ended in Northern Ireland and South Africa? What enabled peace settlements to be negotiated and to be accepted by large sections of the population? Why is Northern Ireland's peace process more fragile than South Africa's? This book argues that it is possible to develop a sociological framework to explain the emergence and progress of the peace process in these two ethnically structured societies that began at roughly the same time to dismantle centuries-old division and conflict. The framework is drawn from C. Wright Mills's account of the 'sociological imagination', and is distinguished by the view that a sociological understanding must demonstrate the intersection between individual biographical experience, social structural changes, historical forces and developments and events in the political process. This case is used to clarify Mills's use of the term and to outline his amibtions for a re-imagined sociology. It addresses itself to readers who wish to know more about the potential of Mills's sociology and to those interested in the ending of violence in Northern Ireland and South Africa.

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