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Amidst uncertainty and othering, EU citizens in search of belonging: The impact of Brexit on migrant identity and significant life-course decisions
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology. v.stuart-taylor@hotmail.co.uk.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The UK's departure from the EU marks a pivotal moment in the history of intra-EU migration, one which foretells significant consequences for the identities and future plans of EU27 citizens who call the UK home, as they try to navigate the uncertainty and xenophobic othering sparked by the referendum result in June 2016. This thesis proposes five hypotheses on the cause-and-effect relationships that link migrant identity to subsequent decision-making in the context of Brexit, through coping strategies and other determining factors. Findings are based on thematic and comparative analysis of qualitative in-depth interviews with 22 Italian, Polish and Romanian citizens living in London, which were conducted between March 2018 and April 2019, prior to the UK's departure date and during a period of considerable uncertainty regarding their future in the country. In terms of Brexit's impact on their identity formation, xenophobic othering plays a key role in reinforcing and reconfiguring collective identities, and provokes contests to citizenship-identity hierarchies within the EU27 community in London. Despite the three nationalities' differing patterns of belonging and resulting identity reconfigurations, Brexit has broadly increased their attachment to, and solidarity through, a transnational European identity. In terms of the practical impact of Brexit on significant life-course decisions, the referendum has not triggered a 'Brexodus' or mass emigration of EU27 citizens from the UK, as emigration decisions are primarily governed by individual and circumstantial factors. Citizens who do not emigrate either face analysis paralysis and adopt avoidance tactics to delay decision-making, or they opt for instrumental naturalisation which often leads subliminally to a greater sense of belonging in the UK. Alongside the general hypotheses, this thesis also depicts the diverse attitudes and coping strategies that differentiate Italians, Polish and Romanians from one another, with regards to their distinct national and cultural backgrounds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 111
Keywords [en]
belonging, Brexit, European identity, identity, interviews, London, migrant identity, migration, othering, social identity, uncertainty
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-393101OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-393101DiVA, id: diva2:1351634
Subject / course
Euroculture
Educational program
Master Programme in Euroculture
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-11-12 Created: 2019-09-16 Last updated: 2019-11-12Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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