Reframing the 'left behind'

Race and class in post-Brexit Oldham.

Drawing of a bleak landscape with the experiences of a refugee written alongside.

Funded by a British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grant, this research project provides a re-framing of the increasingly dominant political narrative of the ‘left behind’ that had gained ground in light of the initial rise of UKIP, but also in the general aftermath of the EU Referendum result.

As we discuss this discourse generally invokes a ‘White working class’ constituency, which it is suggested has suffered uniquely from processes of deindustrialisation, globalisation, and rising inequality and insecurity more broadly.

Within this narrative, the privileging of an imagined ‘White working class’ works to cast this group as the primary, if not the exclusive, victim of these deleterious processes.

While undoubtedly many ‘White working class’ communities have been marginalised through these developments, our research problematises some of the racist and nationalist assumptions and silences that the ‘left behind’ framework rests upon and reinforces.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with local residents in Oldham, we pay critical attention to the way wider economic struggles are adversely connected within the ‘left behind’ narrative to processes of immigration and multiculturalism. This research also draws attention to the impact of racism on the lives of our participants.


Project artwork

You can also check out the project artwork which we have produced in collaboration with Paul Gent based on the key findings of our research.

Key findings booklet

Race and class in post-Brexit Oldham – key findings booklet.

Key findings postcards

Project team

Dr Stephen Ashe, Dr James Rhodes (both The University of Manchester) and Dr Sivamohan Valluvan (University of Warwick).