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Voting for your pocketbook, but against your pocketbook? A study of Brexit at the local level

Gartzou-Katsouyanni, Kira, Kiefel, Max and Olivas Osuna, José Javier ORCID: 0000-0002-9877-8480 (2022) Voting for your pocketbook, but against your pocketbook? A study of Brexit at the local level. Politics & Society, 50 (1). 3 - 43. ISSN 0032-3292

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0032329221992198


In explaining the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum in the United Kingdom, can theories emphasizing the importance of economic factors be reconciled with the fact that many people appeared to vote against their economic self-interest? This article approaches this puzzle through case study research that draws on fieldwork and a process of reciprocal knowledge exchange with local communities in five local authorities in England and Wales. It argues that the Leave vote can be attributed partly to political discontent associated with trajectories of relative economic decline and deindustrialization. Building on the growing literature about the role of narratives and discourses in navigating uncertainty, it contends that these localized economic experiences, interpreted through local-level narratives, paved the way for local-level discourses of resilience and nationwide optimistic messaging about the economic impacts of Brexit to resonate. Local and national-level discourses discounting the potential economic costs of leaving the European Union played a crucial role in giving precise, somewhat paradoxical, political content to the sense of discontent. The article contributes to the growing focus on place and community in understanding political behavior and invites further research on local discourses linking macro-level trajectories and micro-level voting decisions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Government
International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2021 12:33
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 02:15

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