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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Advancing the embedding framework: using longitudinal methods to revisit French highly skilled migrants in the context of Brexit


There has been exponential growth in research about the impact of Brexit on the plans and projects of EU migrants in the UK. Much research focuses on highly visible migrants, such as the Poles. By focusing on French highly skilled migrants in London, our paper offers the perspectives of those who, prior to the referendum, were relatively invisible and largely absent from anti-immigration discourses. In so doing, we consider how the shock of Brexit exposed but also threatened the previously taken for granted privileges enjoyed by this capital-rich migrant population. Moreover, our longitudinal data, gathered through repeated interviews over seven years (2011-2018), enables analysis of how participants' experiences and evaluations of life and work in the UK changed, over time, in response to Brexit. In analysing these longitudinal qualitative data from an under-researched migrant group, this paper also aims to advance our concept of embedding, in its differentiation across political, economic and relational domains, to understand change over time. Specifically, this paper advances understanding of how processes of embedding, both in their reflexive and tacit forms, frame the complex and nuanced ways in which our French highly skilled participants have experienced, made sense of, and responded to, Brexit.

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Jon Mulholland (United Kingdom)
Louise Ryan (United Kingdom)

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