Intergenerational narratives of citizenship among EU citizens in the UK after the Brexit referendum

Marie Godin, Nando Sigona

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The share of British naturalization applications by EU citizens increased in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum. This article offers unique insights into the range of motivations informing decisions to become British or not among EU families from new and old EU member states. It contributes to scholarship on migrants’ lived experiences of naturalization by adopting a family-centred approach to explore intergenerational and intersectional dynamics in citizenship decision making. Naturalization involves personal and collective reckoning with a sense of loss of status and imagined future. We argue that rather than a “premium”, naturalization is framed by many EU citizens as a response to a perceived loss of status (defensive narrative) and threat (protective narrative). This process is mediated and negotiated within the household, and the narratives of naturalization are embedded in participants’ social positioning and shaped by their social statuses and senses of entitlement.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Early online date30 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


  • Brexit
  • hostile environment
  • citizenship
  • naturalization
  • family migration
  • EU migrants


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