Learning from 'Left-Behind' places: Everyday Hopes and Fears for the Future After Brexit in England
This project investigates how residents of four urban areas in England think about Brexit and its consequences. It studies their hopes, aspirations and fears about the future. We focus on four electoral wards in three English cities. There have been large social and economic changes in these places since the decline of manufacturing industries in the 1970s.
They have also been impacted heavily by government policies of austerity. Some of these places have been identified in scientific, political and media accounts as 'left behind'.
It has been argued that the Brexit referendum provided residents of 'left-behind' places in England the opportunity to protest. Not only to protest against the EU, but also to protest against the UK government, globalisation and immigration.
The argument that a vote to leave the EU demonstrated defiance and mistrust is significant. However, it tends to screen out residents of the same places who voted to remain, or those who did not vote or were not permitted to vote. It flattens the diversity within such communities and assumes a unified response.
This project has investigated what Brexit means to people on the ground. We hear from politicians that 'Brexit means Brexit'. But what does it mean for ordinary people? What does it mean in relation to their everyday preoccupations and concerns? Does Brexit feature in the futures they imagine? Or in the futures they have abandoned? Is it significant to them, and if so how?