Ethnic minority voters in 2019: Brexitland, or business as usual?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences


Almost one in ten voters in Britain comes from an ethnic minority background. However, existing accounts of political change pay insufficient attention to the political choices of ethnic minorities, and both academic and political understanding of the effects of Brexit on subsequent vote choice is so far patchy and incomplete. The principal reason for this is that conducting a representative quantitative study of ethnic minorities exceeds the usual ESRC standard grant funding limits. We propose to conduct 90 semi-structured interviews with ethnic minority respondents of Understanding Society to explore the varying effects of the EU referendum, and subsequent national political changes on the political choices of ethnic minorities. We will then triangulate this 'thick' data from interviews, with representative 'thin' quantitative data from the Understanding Society on the vote choices of ethnic minorities in the Brexit referendum, and elections in 2017 and 2019.

We will collaborate with the ESRC investment project Understanding Society as an Associated Study. Using respondents embedded in the household panel study is ideal - the panel contains a great deal of information on respondents' political choices back to 2010, allowing us to purposively sample potential interviewees according to their politics (e.g. to achieve equal numbers of Remain and Leave supporters), and also to supplement the qualitative data with other information about their household and personal history. In accordance with Understanding Society requirements we will deposit the transcriptions from interviews for secondary analysis.

Planned Impact

The number of people interested in ethnic minorities political attitudes and behaviour is growing, and although this grant does not cover any additional impact activities, the PI has very deep links with civil society in this area (such as Runnymede Trust and British Future think-tanks) and will use her established communication networks to publicise the findings of this study. Given the lack of data on minorities, informing the public and civil society working in ths area will have an enormous societal impact.


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