Stakeholder Identities in Britain’s Neoliberal Ethical Community: Polish narratives of earned citizenship in the context of the UK’s EU Referendum


This article examines the narrative strategies through which Polish migrants inthe UK challenge the formal rights of political membership and attempt to rede-fine the boundaries of ‘citizenship’ along notions of deservedness. The analysedqualitative data originate from an online survey conducted in the months beforethe 2016 EU referendum, and the narratives emerge from the open-text answersto two survey questions concerning attitudes towards the referendum and theexclusion of resident EU nationals from the electoral process. The analysis identi-fies and describes three narrative strategies in reaction to the public discoursessurrounding the EU referendum – namelydiscursive complicity,intergroup hostil-ityanddefensive assertiveness– which attempt to redefine the conditions of mem-bership in Britain’s ‘ethical community’ in respect to welfare practices.Examining these processes simultaneously ‘from below’ and ‘from outside’ thenational political community, the paper argues, can reveal more of the transfor-mation taking place in conceptions of citizenship at the sociological level, and thearticle aims to identify the contours of a ‘neoliberal communitarian citizenship’ asinternalized by mobile EU citizens.

British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 70, Issue 4, pp. 1104–1127