Brexit and the everyday politics of emotion: methodological lessons from history

Moss, Jonathan, Robinson, Emily and Watts, Jake (2020) Brexit and the everyday politics of emotion: methodological lessons from history. Political Studies. ISSN 0032-3217

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial No Derivatives.

Download (996kB)


The 2016 European Union referendum campaign has been depicted as a battle between ‘heads’ and ‘hearts’, reason and emotion. Voters’ propensity to trust their feelings over expert knowledge has sparked debate about the future of democratic politics in what is increasingly believed to be an ‘age of emotion’. In this article, we argue that we can learn from the ways that historians have approached the study of emotions and everyday politics to help us make sense of this present moment. Drawing on William Reddy’s concept of ‘emotional regimes’, we analyse the position of emotion in qualitative, ‘everyday narratives’ about the 2016 European Union referendum. Using new evidence from the Mass Observation Archive, we argue that while reason and emotion are inextricable facets of political decision-making, citizens themselves understand the two processes as distinct and competing.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Brexit History of the Emotions Vernacular Politics Everyday Politics Mass Observation Political Science
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General) > JA0071 Theory. Relation to other subjects
J Political Science > JA Political science (General) > JA0086 Study and teaching. Research
Depositing User: Emily Robinson
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2020 09:09
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 11:45

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update