The Politics of Identity and Notions of Home: How Serbian Londoners Perceived Brexit

Sanja Vico


This paper looks at the attitudes of Serbian Londoners to Brexit and at the motives behind their voting decisions at the 2016 EU referendum in Britain. It aims to understand why these people voted the way they did and what this means for their identities and their sense of belonging. Based on two-year-long ethnographic research and in-depth interviews with forty Serbian Londoners, this paper finds that Serbian Londoners were divided on Brexit and that economic status and income were not the most important factors for understanding voting decisions, but rather social and cultural capital. Their differences in attitudes to Brexit and degrees of openness to others can further be explained by Bonikowski’s (2017) argument that there may be a common repertoire of dispositions towards the nation that transcends national boundaries, which explains similarities in nationalisms among different countries. The paper also considers whether Spivak’s (1987) concept of strategic essentialism can be applied to understanding how Serbian Londoners perceived Brexit. Finally, it sheds light on the ambivalent role of living in London – both a cosmopolitan and a British city – and what impact this may have on these participants’ sense of belonging.


Brexit, identity, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, migration, Serbian Londoners, social class

Read this Article.

This article was published in the Graduate Journal of Social Science.
Volume 15 Issue 1 pp. 36–61

This text is licensed under a Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.