“And now we’re facing that reality too”: Brexit, ontological security, and intergenerational anxiety in the Irish border region

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Abstract

Though conspicuous by its absence in debates among the British political and media establishments during the EU referendum campaign, the Irish border has been the central feature of Brexit as the implications and complications of trying to “take back control of borders” have become apparent. Drawing on focus group data gathered between 2017 and 2019 I employ ontological security theory to investigate the impact that Brexit is having on residents and communities living in the central Irish border region. In particular, I draw on the work of David Carr to explore the social role of memory and narrative in ontological (in)security and how this has manifested in the border region throughout the Brexit process. I find that the uncertainties generated by Brexit have caused border residents to draw on anxiety-filled memories and narratives from the securitised border of the pre-Good Friday Agreement era which they then project onto and vicariously through the next generation who, in turn, embody these anxieties, creating intergenerational ontological insecurity. Brexit has reintroduced, if not the physical border, the psychological borders of the past.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Security
Early online date18 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Brexit
  • Ontological security
  • Border
  • Northern Ireland
  • Ireland
  • Irish border
  • Memory
  • Narrative
  • Anxiety
  • International Political Sociology

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