(Br)Exit citizenship: belonging, rights and participation

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This paper offers an in-depth analysis of perceptions of (Br)exit citizenship, integrating key themes of European Union (EU) mobile and political citizenship, along belonging, rights and participation. It draws on a series of original, semi-structured interviews and follow up conversations with 5 experts, 21 Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrants and 30 citizen activists collected between 2018-2022 in the United Kingdom (UK). Three key takeaways emerge from the evidence: 1) shared reluctance to use the term “citizenship”; 2) hierarchised understanding of belonging and rights centred on mobility/migration, gender, class/race and deeply personal identity axes; and 3) the inconspicuous lack of CEE migrant juxtaposed with substantial presence of UK nationals as activists within pro-EU citizen groups. In contrast to being emblematic of EU political citizenship, the findings suggest a ‘business as usual’ juncture, wherein the enduring significance of free movement and intersecting social factors shape (Br)exit citizenship. Hence, the paper offers a cautionary narrative, urging restraint in placing too much emphasis on one-off instances of citizen mobilisations, while highlighting the secondary role migrant and pluralistic citizenship considerations tend to have amidst current and future European socio-political crises.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Early online date26 Dec 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 26 Dec 2023


  • Citizenship
  • Brexit
  • activism
  • migrants
  • citizen groups

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