Fetishizing sovereignty in the remain and leave campaigns

Denny Pencheva, Kostas Maronitis

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Abstract

In this article we approach Brexit via the conceptual framing of sovereignty in the political communication of the Remain and Leave campaigns. This angle, despite its general salience in public discourse, has been analytically underutilized. We put forward a twofold argument: i) that national sovereignty has been fetishized in both campaigns, and that ii) this has important implications for the discursive construction of self and other within the neoliberal paradigm. By employing a Foucauldian understanding of neoliberalism, as well as Sivanandan’s [(2001). Poverty is the new black. Race & Class, 43(2), 1–5] notion of xeno-racism, we theoretically and empirically identify the status of homo oeconomicus in order to analyse the fetishization of sovereignty according to precarity and ethno-racial terms. The framing of the nexus between sovereignty and immigration reveals that the other to homo oeconomicus is not to be found outside the neoliberal paradigm, but rather within it. The self and other homo oeconomicus are narrated as constantly competing with each other over scarce employment and welfare resources. The framing of both campaigns recognizes and validates the anxieties of the British homo oeconomicus self and suggests that they should be anxious about the xeno homo oeconomicus not because of their respective differences but because of their sameness.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Politics and Society
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018

Keywords

  • Brexit
  • EU referendum
  • homo oeconomicus
  • neoliberalism
  • sovereignty
  • xeno racism

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