Skip to main content
Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Recognising British Bodies: The Significance of Race and Whiteness in `Post-Racial' Britain


This article examines the significance of race in how nation is articulated by the white middle-classes in `post-racial' Britain. In doing so, it highlights the centrality of bodies and informal markers of difference within processes of national recognition and reveals a normative expectation for British bodies racialised as non-white to perform or inhabit (particular kinds of) whiteness. Bringing insights from post-race theory and advocating a broad conceptualisation of whiteness as a set of relational ideas and codes, the article demonstrates that whiteness continues to shape and underpin dominant conceptions of Britishness - articulated by middle-class white Britons - even as they recognise people of colour individually, and to some extent collectively, as British. Since the role and symbolic power of the white middle-classes is often overlooked in discussions of Britishness, the article makes an important contribution to debates on race and nation, illustrating how whiteness continues to function in alledgedly `post-race' societies. It concludes that narrow definitions of race and whiteness allow their continued significance to be under-estimated and ultimately enable the perpetuation of racialised hierarchies of belonging.

You might also be interested in :

'I Will Not Be Thrown Out of the Country Because I'm an Immigrant': Eastern European Migrants' Responses to Hate Crime in a Semi-Rural Context in the Wake of Brexit
This article examines Eastern European migrants' experiences of and responses to hate crime. Following the UK European Union Membership Referendum ('Brexit' vote), there was an increase in reported hate crimes against immigrants. The study focuses on the experiences of migrants in Lincolnshire…
Retirement Migration in Europe: A Choice for a Better Life?
This article examines the impact of economic inequalities on the individual choices that North European retirees make when they migrate to Mediterranean countries. It considers a group of retired and early-retired migrants who live permanently in Spain and have limited economic resources.


Sociological Research Online


Amy Clarke (United Kingdom)

Article meta

Country / region covered

Year of Publication

Source type