Joe McMullan

Joe McMullan

A Working-Class Backlash”? An Exploration of How Class, Culture and Identity Shape ‘Rupture’ in a Post Brexit World

Brexit has raised profound questions about the complex actualities of working-class life and the formations of class, culture and identity within ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. The notion of Brexit as ‘backlash’ is variously presented as: the dissolution of the Labour vote alongside the rise of UKIP over fears of immigration, an assertion of control as a response to perceived marginalisation and an expression of frustration over a lack of economic opportunity. This timely study will critically interrogate the notion of Brexit as ‘backlash’ and question ‘against what’. In doing so, this PhD project will explore the social, economic, cultural and political processes that informed this point of ‘rupture’.

However, it is imperative to understand that the working-class did not vote as a homogenous group. Hence, this study will explore the differences and tensions within the way individuals, households and the wider community perceived and responded to the referendum. Ethnographic work on working-class life is relatively sparse and it is crucial to revisit and develop this in the context of the perceived socio-political rupture of Brexit, against a wider backdrop of political and economic crisis in the 'urban vortex' (Hall and Savage, 2015).

Funded in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University.


Rich Crisp (Main supervisor)
Bob Jeffery (2nd supervisor)