Research Programme

The Sociology of Brexit Seminar Series

Chris MorehDerek McGhee, Emilia Pietka-Nykaza

This project is funded by the Sociological Review Foundation. 


Project summary

This seminar series will focus on the sociology of ‘Brexit’, citizenship, belonging and mobility in the context of the British referendum on EU membership.

The seminar series will address four main areas:

1. European citizenship: politics, rights and identities.

Papers on this topic will discuss the experience and practice of European citizenship that could be affected by the Brexit process. Questions discussed will include: the experiences, opinions and future plans of mobile Europeans in the context of a changing relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU; the value and practice of supranational (EU) citizenship as an ‘uncertain’ right; and the meaning of belonging and trans/post-national identities in times of legal and existential ‘uncertainty’.  This topic will be primarily explored in the first seminar.

2. Sub-national citizenship: belonging and independence.

Papers on this topic will focus mainly on the Scottish experience of devolution and sub-national citizenship, seeking to explore the already noticeable and possible future regional effects of a radically changed relationship between the UK and the EU. Questions discussed will include: the experience of the Scottish Independence Referendum and its effect on patterns of mobilization of EU migrants resident in Scotland, compared to those in other parts of the UK; whether popular discourses on ‘Brexit’ enhance or reinforce sentiments of regional (versus national) belonging among Scotland’s population (including EU migrants); and how the connection between sub-national and supra-national citizenship is experienced by social actors. This area will be explored mainly in the second seminar.

3. National citizenship: practices and meanings.

This topic brings together papers discussing how British citizenship is – or might be – affected by the UK’s renegotiation of its EU membership. Questions will include: practices of naturalisation decision making in the context of social uncertainty related to a possible ‘Brexit’ and the changing meaning of the concept of ‘citizenship’ in times of uncertainty. These will be explored mainly in the final seminar.

4. Social citizenship.

The social rights associated with modern citizenship in Britain were the last to develop, and currently they are among the primary targets of the UK’s renegotiation of its EU membership. Regardless of the outcome of the EU referendum, the social rights associated with EU citizenship are under threat of becoming eroded, and this can potentially affect not only EU migrants in Britain, but also Britons living in other EU member states. The topic of social citizenship will run through all three seminar events, and will be explored in respect to sub-national, national and supranational levels.


Project activities

Date Activity Description
31 March 2017 Seminar held at the University of Southampton "The legacy of Brexit: mobility and citizenship in times of uncertaincy"
13 December 2016 Public Roundtable at Kingston University London. "Brexit: EU nationals in the UK after the referendum".
10-11 November 2016 Paper presented at the 3rd CDCI International Conference held in Bucharest, Romania. Paper titled "De-Eureopanisation as re-active migration policy? Mobility and integration in times of 'Brexit': a sociological perspective." presented by Chris Moreh at the event.
7 November 2016 Presentation as part of the the Public Roundtable "Still Home Abroad? Polish Migration to Scotland after Brexit" held at the University of Aberdeen.  Chris Moreh presented on "The attitudes and responses of Polish citizens living in the UK to the EU referendum."
17 June 2016 Seminar held at the University of Southampton The spectre of Brexit: free movement and European citizenship in question
September 2016 Seminar held at the University of the West of Scotland Migration and citizenship: evidence from two referendums
Spring 2017 Seminar held at the University of Southampton “The legacy of Brexit: mobility and citizenship in times of uncertainty”



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Media activities

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