Northern Exposure: Race, Nation and Disaffection in "Ordinary" Towns and Cities after Brexit

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sociology & Social Policy

Abstract

The North of England has played a central role in debates about the causes and consequences of the Brexit referendum, especially in the widespread perception of a divided Britain. There is a pervasive vision of the North outside of the bigger cities, that it represented a "heartland" vote: notably in David Goodhart's romantic vision (2017) of "somewhere" people (core national, rooted, working class, "left behind") against the "anywheres" (affluent, educated, cosmopolitan, metropolitan elites). At the same time, Brexit has raised fears about the future of a multi-racial society with high levels of immigration. The North of England is also viewed as a place of simmering racism and xenophobia: pitting White British, older British minority groups, and newer incomers such as asylum seekers or East European workers against each other in deprived and depressed post-industrial locations. Not least, these tensions are thought to have provoked the murder of a sitting MP - Jo Cox - and to lie behind rising racially motivated hate crime in the region.
Northern Exposure interrogates these perceptions of the North, while broaching sensitive questions of everyday nationalism, race and racism in largely understudied and marginalised places. The project fills out and enriches the argument that the disaffection expressed by voters, or in tensions seen in particular communities, is linked to the long term post-industrial transformation of the region. We must consider the varied paths of industrial, population and spatial change experienced by different localities. There has been a hollowing out of proud old civic solidarities anchored in class and occupation. Northern towns, with their grand histories and identities, have become amorphous, peri-urban entities, ringed by motorways and large shopping malls, with struggling centres and declining populations (Hatherley 2012). Some residents find it impossible to move on or move out. This changing geography, and its fragmenting diversity, have made it ever harder to imagine how to manage shifting ethnic relations or achieve social integration.
The project will offer a detailed statistical profile of 16 "ordinary" large towns and small cities in the North of England, going back in time. We then engage in intensive ethnographic work on four localities-
running from the North West, through West Yorkshire, to the North East-which capture key elements of the post-industrial North in their histories, changing identities, and contemporary struggles: Preston, Halifax, Wakefield, and Middlesbrough. Talking with local stakeholders, community organisations, and social work practitioners, we build up a clear vision of the everyday concerns that damage positive visions of diversity, community and inclusion. This leads on to interviews with older long term residents from different origins and backgrounds, gathering personal oral histories and views about the urban, social and political change around them.
Policy makers in the region feel that conventional multiculturalism and anti-racism are not working, yet that a narrow focus on socio-economic solutions will not solve the riddle of "inclusive growth" or address emergent ethnic conflicts. Our research will transmit voices not often heard into local policy formulation. It will feedback residents' concerns into neighbourhood policing. With our partners, we seek tools for local intervention, identifying mechanisms that lead to community breakdown or community cohesion. Our work will also lead to a comprehensive of study of the state of Northern England in all its diversity as it comes to terms with Brexit. A website, policy roundtables, local presentations, and a large final event will make our work public. Alongside other academic outputs, we are also filming our research and the people we meet. This will result in short online films which portray residents and their lives today, along with a full length documentary for general release.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit from this research?

Northern Exposure offers a timely intervention into issues that have risen to the top of the political agenda in the UK. On top of a series of recent policy review and reports, which include among others reports on poverty and declining cities, and reports on community isolation and segregation, the Brexit vote has raised stakes considerably. There is evidence that inter-ethnic relations have worsened, reflected in an unprecedented rise in hate crime that a UN Rapporteur has linked directly with the UK leaving the European Union. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also stated that leaving the EU will affect anti-discrimination policies. The Government has itself signalled it takes some of these concerns seriously, by announcing a national Race Disparity Audit and White Paper consultation on Integrated Communities. While there are still uncertainties about the UK leaving the EU, existing community relations will change as freedom of movement of EU residents will end. New immigration policies will be put in place, and the architecture of anti-discrimination policy will change. Brexit will also have a differential impact on varied racial and ethnic communities according to their socio-economic characteristics, their everyday practices, their locations, and their local mix. We anticipate therefore that beneficiaries of this research will include: (i) different local communities in "left behind" localities; (ii) local authorities in large towns and small cities, especially post-industrial locations in the North of England as well as similar locations across the country; (iii) national authorities such as the Department for Exiting the European Union, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, the Houses of Commons and Lords, and MPs representing constituencies which share characteristics with those studies; (iv) LAP leaders and governing bodies across the local sector; (v) the media and the general public.

How might they benefit from this research?

The project will provide quantitative, documentary, ethnographic and oral historical policy-related evidence into how understandings of community, diversity and immigration are transforming local communities in the North, as Brexit unfolds and the UK leaves the European Union. It also makes a longer-term conceptual contribution to knowledge in the sociology of race, ethnicity and national identity, challenging and qualifying public understandings of these fundamental questions of identity and belonging, as well as generating insights for local, regional and national policy on community cohesion, anti-discrimination, integration, and symptoms of their breakdown, in hate crime and persistent racial disparity. For (i) local communities and residents it provides them with a voice and a means of speaking to local authorities; for (ii) local authorities it reconnects them with marginalised and deprived communities, helping them to understand the consequences of the changes heralded by Brexit, and better identify challenges and potential responses; for (iii) national authorities, it provides insight into how Brexit is perceived and reframed in so-called "left behind" regions and localities, helping to generate intelligence for evidence-based policy that may address needs of these communities in a timely manner; for (iv) LAP leaders and governing bodies across the local sector, it offers tailored case studies of localities and evidence-based policy recommendations; and (v) in terms of the media and the general public, the research articulates key dimensions of the Brexit and its implications for a multi-racial society, that for the foreseeable future will continue to face population change and immigration in localities struggling with difficult conditions of economic decline, poverty and limited public services.
 
Title Recordings: (Red) Walls, (Brexit) Borders and (Pandemic) Politics webinar series 
Description In May 2020, we launched our (Red) Walls, (Brexit) Borders and (Pandemic) Politics seminar series, inviting speakers relevant to the themes of our research, to build discussions that bring together academic and practitioner perspectives. Recordings of each event are available to watch on the project website. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact To add 
URL https://northernexposure.leeds.ac.uk/news_category/seminar-series/
 
Description Policy Brief: Class, Race and Inequality in Northern Towns
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL https://www.runnymedetrust.org/projects-and-publications/employment-3/class-race-and-inequality-in-n...
 
Description Feeding the nation: seasonal migrant workers and food security during COVID-19
Amount £307,880 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/V015257/1 
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 04/2022
 
Description Labour mobility in transition: a multi-actor study of the re-regulation of migrant work in 'low-skilled' sectors
Amount £820,016 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/V016490/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 09/2024
 
Description Prefabs sprouting: Modern Methods of Construction and the English housing crisis
Amount £589,256 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/V015923/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 04/2024
 
Description Racial inequalities in Halifax: video explorations (with Runnymede Trust)
Amount £4,950 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Department Research England
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 03/2020
 
Description Calderdale Council 
Organisation Calderdale Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnerships with Community Engagement Officers to provide academic consultation research expertise and resources to map changing populations and emerging community tensions in the age of Brexit. Conducted through regular roundtable stakeholder meetings on location. Building links and enabling the sharing of best practice across the four authorities through regular joint Board Meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Engaging in co-production of research design, selection of local cases, identifying of priority areas of deprivation or radicalisation, and the provision of data to our research team. The council is bringing in-kind contribution through staff time of senior offices to attend regular Board meetings, to organise stakeholder meetings on location and to advise the research team.
Impact null
Start Year 2019
 
Description JUST Yorkshire 
Organisation JUST Yorkshire
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution JUST Yorkshire is a charity for racial justice in Yorkshire set up by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in 2003. Through this project, JUST Yorkshire has been introduced to national networks of local authorities (Key Cities), has strenghten collaborations with national racial justice organisations such as Runnymede Trust and get to know more of the work of similar organisations in the North East (Middlesbrough) and Lancashire (Preston) with which we work.
Collaborator Contribution Representatives of JUST Yorkshire participate in knowledge co-production across working packages including research design, data analysis and dissemination and impact strategy. Facilitator of local contacts
Impact null so far
Start Year 2019
 
Description Key Cities 
Organisation Key Cities
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Key cities (https://www.keycities.co.uk/our-work) is an organisation that brings together local authorities from middle and small size townstt in England. Key cities also convens the Key cities All-Party Parlamentary Group. The project works closely with Key Cities in co-producing knowledge across the working packages including research design, development of research questionnaire, data analysis, dissemination fo findings. For example, the research team acts as a critical friend to advice members on the community cohesion agenda.
Collaborator Contribution Through Key Cities, relevant senior policy officers with portofolio on Equality and Community Cohesion have been identified in each of the four locations. Local authorities have then organised a stakeholders meeting where the research team met local community organisers, religious leaders and campaginers.
Impact Stakeholders meetings in Wakefield, Middlesbrough, Preston and Halifax.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Lord Bhikhu Parekh, House of Lords 
Organisation House of Lords
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Lord Parekh is honorary chair of the Board of the Project and the "Commission for Diversity in the North of England". We are working towards formulating a new vision for the future of multi-ethnic Britain which reprises the themes and content of the famous 200o "Parekh Report", The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain.
Collaborator Contribution Lord Parekh attends regular meetings and provides advice and direction on the project
Impact None, as yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Middlesbrough Council 
Organisation Middlesbrough Borough Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnerships with Community Engagement Officers to provide academic consultation research expertise and resources to map changing populations and emerging community tensions in the age of Brexit. Conducted through regular roundtable stakeholder meetings on location. Building links and enabling the sharing of best practice across the four authorities through regular joint Board Meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Engaging in co-production of research design, selection of local cases, identifying of priority areas of deprivation or radicalisation, and the provision of data to our research team. The council is bringing in-kind contribution through staff time of senior offices to attend regular Board meetings, to organise stakeholder meetings on location and to advise the research team.
Impact null
Start Year 2019
 
Description Preston City Council 
Organisation Preston City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnerships with Community Engagement Officers to provide academic consultation research expertise and resources to map changing populations and emerging community tensions in the age of Brexit. Conducted through regular roundtable stakeholder meetings on location. Building links and enabling the sharing of best practice across the four authorities through regular joint Board Meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Engaging in co-production of research design, selection of local cases, identifying of priority areas of deprivation or radicalisation, and the provision of data to our research team. The council is bringing in-kind contribution through staff time of senior offices to attend regular Board meetings, to organise stakeholder meetings on location and to advise the research team.
Impact null
Start Year 2019
 
Description Runnymede Trust 
Organisation Runnymede Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitated introductions to local authorities and local civil society organisations with portofolio on racial justice co-production of knowledge on racial inequalities in Northern Towns
Collaborator Contribution Shared expertise on race equality, co-produced policy brief on racial inequalities in Northern towns.
Impact policy brief Class, Race and Inequalities in Northern Towns published August 2019 https://www.runnymedetrust.org/projects-and-publications/employment-3/class-race-and-inequality-in-northern-towns.html
Start Year 2019
 
Description Stop Hate UK 
Organisation Stop Hate UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Stop Hate UK is a national charity working to provide support to hate crime victims and raise awareness about hate crime in UK. Through this project, Stop Hate UK has been introduced to the national network of local authorities -Key Cities
Collaborator Contribution Stop Hate UK is partner in co-production of knowledge across the working packages including research design, data analysis, dissemination of findings and delivery of impact strategy. Stop Hate UK has also contributed with expert case-based understanding of hate crime data in the North of England
Impact null-so far
Start Year 2019
 
Description Wakefield Council 
Organisation Wakefield Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnerships with Community Engagement Officers to provide academic consultation research expertise and resources to map changing populations and emerging community tensions in the age of Brexit. Conducted through regular roundtable stakeholder meetings on location. Building links and enabling the sharing of best practice across the four localities through regular joint Board Meetings.
Collaborator Contribution Engaging in co-production of research design, selection of local cases, identifying of priority areas of deprivation or radicalisation, and the provision of data to our research team. The council is bringing in-kind contribution through staff time of senior offices to attend regular Board meetings, to organise stakeholder meetings on location and to advise the research team.
Impact null
Start Year 2019
 
Description 2 day workshop meeting of UK in a Changing Europe 'Governance after Brexit' projects 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact University of Leeds, 5-6 March 2020
'Changing Conceptions of Impact and Engagement in Post-Brexit Social Science'
Organisation and co-direction with Dan Wincott of 2 day workshop meeting of UK in a Changing Europe 'Governance after Brexit' projects , with representatives of ESRC, local and national government, and impact/engagement specialists
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Conference presentation by Adrian Favell at Annual RC21 conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academic conference presentation:
Favell, A. (2021) 'Northern Exposure: Fear, Loathing and Hope in the North of England after Brexit'
16 July 2021, Antwerp, RC21 conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Conference presentation by Adrian Favell on Northern Exposure findings at Becoming a Minority mini conference at Grad Centre CUNY 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academic research conference (24-25.02.22, New York City)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Conference presentation by Andrew Wallace and Adrian Favell at Annual IMISCOE conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academic conference presentation: Wallace, A (2021) 'In the wake of Brexit: living with diversity in the North of England', presented at IMISCOE panel Living in Diversity: How do people without migration background react to and participate in majority minority neighbourhood contexts 8th July, Luxembourg
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Conference presentation by Andrew Wallace at Annual RC21 conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academic conference presentation:
Wallace, A (2021) 'Beyond Preston. Struggles over progressive municipal strategy in Brexit England', presented at ISA RC21 panel Progressive cities and civil society mobilisations 15th July, University of Antwerp
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Conference presentation by Andrew Wallace on Northern Exposure findings at Becoming a Minority mini conference at Grad Centre CUNY 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Academic research conference (24-25.02.22, New York City)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Discussants to a presentation at University of Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Albert Varela and Adrian Favell (both of Northern Exposure) contributed as discussants to a presentation by Gwilym Price (Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics, University of Sheffield), titled 'Researching the local employment impacts of immigration: which way now?'

The event was co-sponsored by the Sheffield Migration Research Group and the project Understanding Inequalities.

• Who was the primary audience engaged with? - academics
• Who were the other audiences engaged with? - practitioners, general audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://eu-lti.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/2d75f2138ccc446e896a69c4209d0f23
 
Description Monthly project webinar series (series of five in 2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In May 2020, we launched our '(Red) Walls, (Brexit) Borders and (Pandemic) Politics' webinar series, inviting speakers relevant to the themes of our research, to build discussions that bring together academic and practitioner perspectives. Each event was 2 hours long and was strucutred as such: a keynote speaker gave their presentation, then we had responses from discussants, and then there was time for discussion/questions with audience members. The following are the events which have already taken place:
- 21st May 2020: Class inequality, community studies and COVID-19, with Dr Lisa Mckenzie, Assistant Professor in Department of Sociology at Durham University
- 1st July 2020: Individualism and the search for 'community', with Professor Jon Lawrence, Professor of Modern British History, University of Exeter, and author of: Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Post-war England
- 16th September 2020: Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics, with Professors Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford, Professors of Political Science at the University of Manchester, and authors of "Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics"
- 21st October 2020: 'Race', Space and Multiculturalism in Northern England: The (M62) Corridor of Uncertainty, with Professor Pete Sanderson (Professor of Education, Department of Education and Community Studies) and Professor Paul Thomas (Professor of Youth and Policy, School of Education and Professional Development), from University of Huddersfield, and authors of "'Race', Space and Multiculturalism in Northern England: The (M62) Corridor of Uncertainty". Dr Shamim Miah (Senior Lecturer at the School of Education, University of Huddersfield) is also an author and was also due to present but was unfortunately ill on the day.
- 25th November 2020: Stories from a Migrant City: Living and Working Together in the Shadow of Brexit, with Professor Ben Rogaly, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sussex, and author of "Stories from a Migrant City: Living and Working Together in the Shadow of Brexit" (this was a joint webinar with the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://northernexposure.leeds.ac.uk/news_category/seminar-series/
 
Description Research presentation at the University of Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Academic talk to the School of Geography and Planning. 4th February 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description coverage in The Observer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact coverage of the policy brief 'Class, Race and Inequalities in Northern Towns' co-produced with Runnymede Trust
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/18/inequality-north-of-england-race
 
Description invited talk UCL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact UCL, London, 6 June 2019
'Left Behind Britain and France Périphérique'
Adrian Favell spoke at a public panel at University College London on 'Left Behind Britain and France Périphérique' as part of the university's 2019 Festival of Culture.

academic audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description invited talk UCLA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact UCLA, Los Angeles, 23 May 2019
'Crossing the Race Line: Brexit, Citizenship and "Immigrants" in the Referendum'.
Adrian Favell presented an invited talk at UCLA, Center for the Study of International Migration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description invited talk University of Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact invited talk at workshop ' Citizens of Brexit' 22 of October 2019
Paul Bagguley and Roxana Barbulescu gave a talk on the project
academic audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description invited talk annual ESRC University of Essex 'Understanding Society' report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact London, 28 Jan 2020
'Social integration and cohesion at a crossroads: where to now?'
Adrian Favell spoke to government officers, policy stakeholders and community representatives as an expert panelist at the launch of the annual ESRC University of Essex 'Understanding Society' report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description invited talk at National Pensioners' Convention annual Pensioners' Parliament 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blackpool, 11 June 2019
'The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain: What Went Wrong?'
Adrian Favell spoke at the National Pensioners' Convention annual Pensioners' Parliament in Blackpool. The NPC represents around 1 million members in over 1,000 different organisations across the UK, organising rallies and lobbies of MPs, leading delegations to parliament and making submissions to government.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description national newspaper coverage (The Guardian) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact coverage in The Guardian based on the Policy Brief 'Class, Race and Inequalities in Northern Towns; co-produced Runnymede Trust
15th of August 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/15/white-working-class-fuels-inequality-north
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/15/white-working-class-fuels-inequality-north
 
Description presentation at international workshop, University of Florida, Research for European Studies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Migration Experience in Europe: Integration, Inclusion, & Exclusion - Immigrant Rights & Integration
31 March 2021

Rainer Baubock, European University Institute; Roxana Barbulescu, University of Leeds; Sara Wallace Goodman, University of California, Irvine
https://ces.ufl.edu/outreach/campus/other-events/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ces.ufl.edu/outreach/campus/other-events/