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Something ‘Old’, Something ‘New’? The UK Space of Political Attitudes After the Brexit Referendum

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This study focuses on the political attitudes of UK citizens in the aftermath of the ‘Brexit’ vote. It has been argued that differences within electorates across Europe are found in disputes over taxes, redistribution of wealth and social welfare, as much as in divergent ideas on how to deal with globalisation, migration, and climate change. This article uses the 2016–2017 round of the European Social Survey (N = 1959) to shed light on two important issues in regard to the relationship between ‘old’ and ‘new’ politics. By using multiple correspondence analysis, we first consider the structure, or dimensionality, of the space of political attitudes in contemporary UK society. Contrary to a prevailing discourse that forwards the argument that postmaterial values constitute an altogether separate political dimension in late modernity, we observe that such values collapse into traditional left/right standpoints. Second, we discuss the connection between class (economic capital, cultural capital, and occupational class) and position-takings in the space of political attitudes. We show that class retains a limited effect on political position-takings, where educational capital plays the most important role. The divisions between the politically interested–uninterested, old–young, men–women, and rural–urban are more clearly demarcated than differences between people of different social class positions. Furthermore, polarisation is most prevalent between a highly opinionated, relatively resourceful, small minority of the population.




Lindell, J., & Ibrahim, J. (2020). Something ‘Old’, Something ‘New’? The UK Space of Political Attitudes After the Brexit Referendum. Sociological Research Online.

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