The Orange Order remains the largest organisation in Northern Irish civil society, with a membership exceeding the combined total of all the political parties in the region. This book provides the first ever comprehensive membership survey of the Orange Order. The book draws upon a detailed study of the Orange Order and on a wealth of individual interviews with Orange leaders and its grassroots base. It begins with a historical outline of the Order's development, before turning to a detailed assessment of its contemporary struggle for relevance amid political marginalisation, secularism and diminished benefits to its membership.
The book charts the views of members on how to adapt to external changes; explores the sense of belonging provided by membership; analyses the repositories of loyalty that fuel their sense of Britishness and assesses how the century old relationship with the Ulster Unionist Party was replaced by a shift in allegiances. The book discusses the calls for Unionist unity made by the leadership and analyses the membership's desire for a broad Unionist front.