Is Brexit a Sociological Issue?

September 20, 2018

Brexit, Brexit, and more Brexit.

 

As a sociology student, you're constantly told to keep up with current affairs - and rightly so! This is essential in exams for applying (AO2) your sociological knowledge. More importantly, as a young person you need to be aware of the world around you as you seek to find your place in it as an adult.

 

However, during the past trillion months (and probably for the next trillion months) every news outlet is focused on one story. Brexit. You're forgiven for not wanting to read the news when every single day the top story is another development about the Brexit process. And on days where there is no development, the news is that there has been no development! It's agonising.

 

But fear not - We can use Brexit to our advantage and even use it many of our sociology essays. Brexit is as sociological as it is political - and here's why...

 

Demography

 

We study demography as a topic in the Family unit, and it's rather dull due to its focus on birth and death rates. Demography is actually one of the most fundamental parts of modern sociology, and basically is the term we use for understanding the makeup of society.

 

Brexit is relevant here, firstly due to understand voting patterns. Without understanding the demographics of Britain, all we know is that lots of people voted against it, and a slightly larger amount voted for it. Not too helpful. But if we look at the results in terms of people's age, gender, education and income, we see colossal differences! Sociologists have the job of discovering, for example. why people with more qualification are more likely to have voted remain. If you're interested in why these differences occurred, there's lots of brilliant articles proposing ideas, such as this one from the London School of Economics.

 

Brexit is also relevant in our study of demography because of migration being a major factor in many people's decision to vote leave, as they were concerned with how easy it is for EU citizens to move to Britain. Some leave voters felt EU migrants were not assimilating - 'becoming like us'. Whereas some remain voters believe multiculturalism is beneficial and don't mind EU migrants retaining their own cultural identity. Again, it is a sociologist's job to find out why and how people develop such contrasting opinions.

 

Crime & Deviance

 

The Vote Leave group was the official group campaigning for Brexit. Since the vote, they have been found guilty of running an illegal campaign, as they broke spending rules. There has been no real consequences other than a relatively small fine, which means we can apply this case to Marxist's perspective on crime. The people responsibly are wealthy, powerful people, who Marxists believe are not a priority for our criminal justice system. No one will go to prison, yet Marxists may argue that their crime is far worse than the desperate actions of the oppressed working class who commit crime due to the 'criminogenic' capitalist society we live in.

 

Media

 

The media's power to influence public opinion cannot be underestimated. For the last 30 years, whichever political party The Sun (Britain's best selling news outlet) has backed has emerged victorious. You should explore the role the media the role that the played in determining the outcome of Brexit (through reports such as this). You could also explore the relationship between the owners of Britain's media outlets and their reasons for supporting leave or remain. Were people passively believing what they were told through the hypodermic syringe model? Or were they relying on experts interpretation of the debate as the two-step flow model suggests?

 

Is there an end in sight?

 

No. Sorry. Brexit will continue to dominate the news even after (or even if) it happens. So embrace it (as much as you can) and use it to your advantage. Think of it less as politics hell, and more as sociology AO2 heaven.

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