Reading the public : political action and its relationship to constructions of political disagreement and opinion climate in the context of Brexit

O'Dwyer, Emma (2020) Reading the public : political action and its relationship to constructions of political disagreement and opinion climate in the context of Brexit. Political Psychology, ISSN (print) 0162-895X (Epub Ahead of Print)

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Abstract

This study applied a social representations approach to investigate the ways in which constructions of perceived political disagreement and the prevailing opinion climate were implicated in people's construals of political participation in the context of the United Kingdom European Union referendum of 2016. Interviews were conducted with 19 residents of the United Kingdom who voted to remain in the referendum, located in constituencies which represented diverse opinion climates in relation to the referendum. Thematic analysis of the data revealed that public opinion was a dilemmatic social representation; it was inscrutable and often ill‐informed but also volatile and disruptive, which left open the possibility of it moving towards a more pro‐EU position. Importantly, constructions of a polarized and dysfunctional political system worked to sustain a mode of political engagement which prioritized and positioned as efficacious individual rather than collective anti‐Brexit political behavior. This implies that people may prefer different types of political participation depending on the opinion climate which they occupy and the way in which they construe it. Findings are discussed in relation to previous work linking meta‐representations to political behavior and expression, and the implications of the findings for emergent forms such as Brexit are elaborated.

Item Type: Article
Research Area: Politics and international studies
Psychology
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences
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Depositing User: Anna Englund
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 13:35
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2020 11:02
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12658
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/44949

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