What is it about?

The main argument developed in this article is that place or local context matters as it mediates the interaction between cultural and economic factors and helps explain differences in attitudes vis-à-vis the E.U. In some areas local socio-economic and political trajectories fueled political distrust over time, and created a fertile ground for the development of dominant Brexit discourses, which have permeated among different socio-economic groups and channeled frustrations against the political establishment, particularly the E.U.

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Why is it important?

Most studies on Brexit and the underpinning political trust crisis have focused on the national level, assuming that individual variables operate uniformly across space and not paying sufficient attention to local realities and contextually specific configurations of factors. This article shows that local experiences and concerns may exacerbate certain sources of political discontent, fuel political distrust and help anchor populist discourses that channel frustration against political elites and the E.U. Trust in European Institutions is not just contingent on national political circumstances. Local socio-economic and political contexts are key to understand the emerging “geography of discontent” and the very disparate referendum results across the U.K., and as such they deserve further academic attention.


On the whole, repeated exchanges with members of these local communities at each stage of the research process helped shed light on the interplay between different drivers of attitudes around Brexit. Moreover, our participatory approach enabled us to engage in a process of reciprocal knowledge exchange and meaningful deliberation with local communities, following calls to address the distrust of expert opinion in the wake of the referendum.

Dr Jose Javier Olivas Osuna
Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Place matters: Analyzing the roots of political distrust and Brexit narratives at a local level, Governance, July 2021, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/gove.12545.
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