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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Young Europeans in Brexit Britain: Unsettling identities


Since the 2016 European Union referendum, young European migrants living in Britain have faced growing exposure to social exclusion and insecurities over their future. The Brexit process has not only changed their rights but has also increased their experiences of xenophobia and discrimination. In this context, we consider it timely to focus on young EU nationals' processes of identification and (re)constructions of their identities while they negotiate the multiple challenges posed by geopolitical transformations. The social constructionist research with young migrants shows that they increasingly experience their identities as fluid, with relationships that move between proximity and distance. Our findings from focus groups with 108 young people aged 12-18 years born in Central and Eastern European countries and case studies of 20 families support this perspective. The analysis documents young people's agency and efforts to negotiate identity as a process of becoming in the context of change and uncertainty. To understand how young people from a migrant background navigate individual and collective identities, the article offers an explanatory framework that highlights their need for familiarity, continuity, and control over their lives, necessary to maintain a sense of home and belonging.

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Marta Moskal (United Kingdom)
Daniela Sime (United Kingdom)

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