Skip to main content
Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Moral regulation and a good moral panic: UK Polish migrant workers and the 2016 EU Referendum


The UK 2016 EU Referendum has introduced a period of uncertainty for both the indigenous population and for non-British citizens. This uncertainty is considered within a framework of the recent revisions in the sociology of moral panics through an analysis of interviews with Polish migrant workers. This analysis reveals two main discursive framing logics. The first logic refers to a self-reported anti-Polish migrant moral panic discourse that - according to respondents - was exploited by British anti-migrant campaigners. The second type of articulation illustrates the good moral panic logic, namely, a panicking discourse appearing among respondents about the vulnerability of their community in post-Referendum Britain. This article, however, problematises the good moral panic logic by eliciting competing narratives found in the interview data. The latter did not aim merely at stimulating caring attitudes but referred also to moral regulation techniques to manage Brexit-oriented risks and avoid the trap of becoming a vulnerable migrant.

You might also be interested in :

Brexit and the stratified uses of national and European Union citizenship
In this article the authors explore how Brexit changes the social meanings and uses of formal national and EU citizenship and how these meanings and uses are stratified, including by migratory experience, class and age. They do so through in-depth interviews with Britons in Belgium…
Unequal Europe, unequal Brexit: How intra-European inequalities shape the unfolding and framing of Brexit
This article argues that focusing on intra-European inequalities is key to a deeper understanding of the Brexit process, as the impacts of the Brexit process on core-periphery inequalities within Europe and on intra-European migrations remain under-researched topics. Focusing on sociology…


Current Sociology


Ian Fitzgerald (United Kingdom)

Article meta

Country / region covered

Population studied

Year of Publication

Source type