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Brexit and the politics of the rural

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Publication details

JournalSociologia Ruralis
DateSubmitted - 3 Mar 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Oct 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 25 Oct 2019
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)790-809
Early online date25/10/19
Original languageEnglish


This paper uses Woods’ (2005) term ‘politics of the rural’ as a lens to trace connections between Brexit and countryside protests that erupted in the late 1990s following the disruption of a century old political settlement for governing rural areas. Historically, the intertwining of rurality, hierarchy and empire in national identity had shielded rural elite interests and the power structures that uphold them from progressive political developments in urban areas. The paper highlights how a new political party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was able to occupy a space opened by Countryside Alliance, and subsequently vacated by a modernising Conservative Party, to build a movement shaped by a similar type of settler populism. How these broader dynamics interacted with local contexts to structure perceptions and experiences underpinning support for Brexit calls for more contextualised, region-specific research. ‘Politics of the rural’ provides one lens among others to bring to these analyses.

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Sociologia Ruralis © 2019 European Society for Rural Sociology. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Brexit, English countryside, Ethnic populism, Politics of the rural, Conservatism, Countryside Alliance

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