Understanding the Changing Voter Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Brexit

Rowe, Jay (2022) Understanding the Changing Voter Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Brexit. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Jay Rowe PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Jun 2021_Final Award Feb 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

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On June 23rd, 2016, the electorate of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland voted to leave the European Union in a referendum; that political date would create seismic changes in how the UK was governed, on how its citizens related to their country and their continent and concerning how the UK would function as one of the world’s largest economic, normative and military powers thenceforth. This research sought to understand how Leave and Remain voters constructed and reshaped their British and European identities in the half-decade following the Brexit vote, and how voters and parties perceived the social impacts of Brexit in the immediate and longer term. This author of this thesis attempted to contribute to the growing body of research in the social psychology of Brexit and Western state nationalism in the post-2016 era. This was achieved by conducting primary data analysis of five focus groups, nine electoral manifestos and two surveys consisting of 148 and 157 participants, respectively. The study made consistent use of secondary research in empirical experimental psychology, social statistics, political science, cultural studies, and sociology to contextualise the findings of the mixed methods primary data. The findings suggested that the psychological trait of collective narcissism coupled with continued support for Brexit influenced strong support for Leave supporting parties (Conservatives, UKIP, The Brexit Party which became Reform UK) in the post-2016 era. Moreover, social attitudes in line with, firstly, national traditionalism in Leave supporters and, secondly, multiculturalism liberalism in Remain voters, sat either side of Brexit divide for voters while pro-Leave Parties and Pro-Second referendum voters sought to construct contrasting perceptions of the societal impact of Brexit; being largely positive in the former, and considerably more negative in the latter. Based on these findings, this thesis highlights the persistent division in social attitudes toward Brexit among the British electorate while illuminating no clear path to repairing a divided nation. Recommendations for further research include a call for a more longitudinal data collection with a wider variety of psychological variables that would enrich the academy’s understanding of the group and individual thought processes that might construct voters’ attitudes toward Brexit going forward.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
26 June 2021Submitted
15 February 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brexit, Social Identity, British Identity, Britain, Europe, Britishness, European Identity, European Union, Populism, Nationalism
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-01 - social sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Criminology and Sociology
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2022 13:23
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2022 13:23
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13485

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