Talking Politics?: Brexit, emotion work and everyday family relationships

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HWG/05, Harold Wilson Building

University of Huddersfield

Huddersfield

HD1 1JB

United Kingdom

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Speaker: Dr Katherine Davies, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Sheffield

This paper explores how the UKs 2016 referendum on the European Union has been experienced within family relationships. Drawing upon data generated as part of a qualitative interview-based study funded by the British Academy between 2017 and 2019, the paper outlines the silences, arguments, debates and conversations that people are having in their everyday family relationships in reaction to Brexit and the political debates surrounding it. British media outlets have commonly described the UK as a nation divided by Brexit, yet we know very little about what this means for people in their everyday lives and relationships. This paper unpacks the trope of ‘divided Britain’ by considering how Brexit is lived in everyday family relationships. Interviews with both ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’ from different generations reveal that, despite often disagreeing with their family members about Brexit, people expend a great deal of effort and skill in avoiding divisions within their family. Building on Hochschild’s (1993) concept of ‘emotion work’, alongside work on family practices and relationality, the paper demonstrates different practices of ‘talking politics’ in families, pointing to the work that goes into avoiding conflict and paying particular attention to the role of ‘biting your tongue’ when discussing Brexit with loved ones.

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HWG/05, Harold Wilson Building

University of Huddersfield

Huddersfield

HD1 1JB

United Kingdom

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