- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-5251-0
- Pages: 272
- Price: £24.99
- Published Date: January 2024
During Brexit, political questions were continually framed in emotional terms. The referendum was presented as a conflict between reason and resentment, fear and hope, heads and hearts. The Leave vote was interpreted as the triumph of passion over rationality, and its aftermath triggered concerns about the divisive impact of feelings on political culture. This book examines how these stories about feelings shaped public experiences and determined political possibilities.
The politics of feeling uses first-hand accounts to explore how 'ordinary' people understand their own feelings about the referendum, and how they reacted to the feelings of others. It shows how they drew on public narratives, while also rejecting and reworking them. The authors highlight a dangerous contradiction whereby feelings were simultaneously understood as dangerous and illegitimate, and as an authentic reflection of our inner selves. This had its own political consequences.
'Brexit was too often presented as a battle between "passionate leavers" and "rational remainers", but the Politics of feeling in Brexit Britain demonstrates through the real-time testimony of the Mass Observation Project that it was more complicated than that. Emotion is nothing new in politics, but this is a book that should make journalists, campaigners, politicians and pundits alike think again about how easy stereotypes shape collective political decision-making.'
Peter Foster, author of What Went Wrong with Brexit
'The politics of feeling in Brexit Britain is a ground-breaking study of the work that feeling did - and was held to do - in the referendum of 2016. Using accounts from the Mass Observation Archive, it tells the story of Brexit from the ground up. Anyone who wants to understand Britain today should read this brilliantly insightful book.'
Claire Langhamer, Director, Institute of Historical Research
'With impressive clarity, this book invites us to bring emotional literacy to political analysis. A very important contribution to our understanding of Brexit.'
Stephen Coleman, author of How People Talk about Politics
'This book demonstrates the value of engaging with the direct voices of ordinary citizens. It advances our understanding of how both feelings and reason, often combined in nuanced ways, played influential roles in the way people responded to the politics of Brexit.'
Professor Gerry Stoker, Chair of Governance, University of Southampton
'This is not only a brilliant and dispassionate account of the role of feelings in Brexit. It is a reminder to political science of the importance of emotion in understanding and explaining the causes, consequences and meaning of major political developments.'
Tim Oliver, author of Understanding Brexit
Introduction: using an 'archive of feeling' to understand Brexit Britain
Part I: Beyond 'heads vs hearts': personal feelings in political life
1 Voting decisions
2 Judgements and stereotypes
Part II: Stories of excessive emotions: political feelings in personal life
Jonathan Moss is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sussex
Emily Robinson is Reader in British Studies at the University of Sussex
Jake Watts is an independent scholar