'Muslims, Migrants & the "Left Behind": On the relational politics of crisis in Brexit Britain'

19 May 2022, 5.00 PM - 19 May 2022, 6.30 PM

Dr Jan Dobbernack (University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

Venue to be confirmed or online

In-person please register here - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/293183558917
Online - Zoom link here - https://bristol-acuk.zoom.us/j/99048488535?pwd=cExWMnl0Ly9TZ3AxRHJvVkV4cVRKdz09 

Different understandings of crisis have been mobilized to explain political circumstances in contemporary Britain. Accounts that connect critical experiences with political upheaval point to cultural disorientation, economic insecurity, or demographic anxiety, among other assumed drivers. Such accounts tend to make some social groups visible as passive or abject subjects. Others are marked as risky or dangerous by reference to their critical circumstances. The paper reviews the use of crisis in political language and recent sociological scholarship. It draws attention to crisis work, that is, deployments of crisis that outline subject positions, draw connections between social groups and put audiences in place. It follows up on one influential storyline, in which the presence of immigrant and post-migrant populations threatens the integrity of native community life and exacerbates the majority’s sense of insecurity and decline. Growing resentment becomes understandable as legitimate anxiety about “hyper ethnic change” (Goodwin & Eatwell 2018) and signals the “loss of white ethno-cultural self-confidence” (Kaufmann 2018). Such work does not merely claim to describe critical experiences but invokes crisis to attribute subjectivity, volition and a relational disposition. The paper reviews this and other examples of crisis work to explore the productive proliferation of crisis in British social-political language.

Jan Dobbernack is Lecturer in Political Sociology at Newcastle University. His research is concerned with policy-making and knowledge production in the field of post-immigrant ‘integration’ and citizenship. He is interested in the interaction between state regulation and disruptive agency and in the development of policy agendas that aim for social unity and cohesion (e.g. The Politics of Social Cohesion, Palgrave). Before joining Newcastle, Jan has held fellowships at the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre and at the Ethnicity Research Centre, Bristol. The current talk sets the scene for a book project on social imaginaries of crisis.


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