Brexit and emergent politics: in search of a social psychology

Andreouli, Eleni; Kaposi, David and Stenner, Paul (2019). Brexit and emergent politics: in search of a social psychology. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 29(1) pp. 6–17.



In this paper we develop a conceptual and methodological approach which psychologists and other social scientists can employ to study emergence. We consider relevant social psychological approaches and conclude that, for the most part, social psychology has tended to focus on processes of normalisation following disruptions, rather than examining emergence in itself. An exception to this is G.H. Mead, whose work we draw on to theorise emergence with a focus on contemporary ‘affective politics’. In the second part of the paper, we use focus group data on the EU referendum in the UK to empirically illustrate our theoretical points. We discuss in particular three axes for exploring the emergent politics of Brexit: political values, political authority, and the authority of affect. We conclude our discussion by reflecting on some of the theoretical and political implications of our analysis.

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