Understanding Brexit - mainstream and counterpoint within the United Kingdom
Abstract: The referendum on Brexit in 2016 revealed a divide within the United Kingdom, with England and Wales voting in favour of leaving the EU, while Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar voted remain. The thesis analyses Brexit through a theoretical framework within Development Theory elaborated by Hettne. This framework understands the societal development of modern human history to be driven by three basic values working in interaction, namely order, freedom, and justice. Building on Polanyi, the theory understands social history as a process of struggle between the first movement (constituting the mainstream), seeking to deregulate the economy through the value of freedom, and the second movement (constituting the counterpoint), seeking to reembedd the economy through political means on behalf of order and justice. In a global perspective, the thesis understands the wants for continued EU-membership as the first movement and the decision to leave EU as a consequence of the political strength of the second movement. The aim of the thesis is to identify the dominating values in mainstream and counterpoint, and if there is any difference in the mainstream between Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar, using newspapers and websites as material for research. To conduct the study a methodological framework was constructed using elements of ideological analysis, provided by Freeden, and elements of qualitative content analysis, provided by Altheide. The main contributions of the thesis is empirically to analyze Brexit within the framework of Polanyi and theoretically to concretize the application of Hettne’s framework by using Freeden and Altheide.
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