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The deep story of Leave voters affective assemblages: implications for political decentralisation in the UK

Abstract

How do British Pluralist traditions need to be re-imagined to address the issues at the heart of the Brexit vote? This paper will use qualitative research about why Britain voted for Brexit to examine this question. The paper interrogates the question that we require a more decentred local government at a community level in order for people to feel both represented, and able to participate. Firstly, it will analyse the values, attitudes and beliefs of Leave voters who participated in the study, and situate them in terms of the affective assemblages of symbolic meaning, ideas, beliefs, values and emotion through which they imagined themselves and their community. It will examine the ‘deep story’ (Boler and Davis, in Emotion Space Soc 27:75–85, 2018) through which participants affective responses are situated into inherited historical cultures and traditions, exploring where participants located themselves in relation to others and their particular cultures and traditions. In the final part of the paper, I consider what this means for British pluralist traditions at a local and community level in a post-Brexit polity. I find that the Leave vote signals and symbolises a turn to the traditional Nation State as the political space that can protect and care for individuals who long for control over their worlds. This is potentially at odds with their expressed desire stronger democratic engagement.

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Correspondence to Joanie Willett.

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Willett, J. The deep story of Leave voters affective assemblages: implications for political decentralisation in the UK. Br Polit 16, 203–218 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-021-00171-x

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Keywords

  • Pluralism
  • Brexit
  • Affect
  • Assemblage
  • Leave Voters