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Shifting Diversity Discourses and New Feeling Rules? The Case of Brexit


In this theoretical article, we argue that discourses of diversity are shifting. In segments of the population in Western countries, the discourses on diversity appear to be shifting from multiculturalism towards narrower monoculturalism, nationalism and prejudice. We here argue that the discursive space to voice such opinions have widened. The liberal left has long been accused of “imposing” values of diversity and multiculturalism on societies, and statements that previously were largely seen as publicly unacceptable (e.g. derogatory language regarding minorities), are now becoming more mainstream (again). Drawing on social identity theory, feeling rules and critical discourse analysis, we highlight how public discourses emphasizing “us” versus “them” are shifting. Claims are highlighted through the case of Brexit, where both campaigns arguably made use of anti-immigration discourses, but where particularly the Leave campaign in general, and sections of the leave campaign in particular, contributed to legitimating negative and derogatory stances towards “others”. The article is a timely contribution to consequential directions in discourses related to monoculturalism, prejudice and definitions of “us” and “them”.

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Correspondence to Sigrun Marie Moss.

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Moss, S.M., Solheim, M.C.W. Shifting Diversity Discourses and New Feeling Rules? The Case of Brexit. Hu Arenas 5, 488–508 (2022).

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  • Diversity
  • Discourse
  • Brexit
  • Social identities
  • Racism
  • Feeling rules