Intergenerational transmission and support for EU membership in the United Kingdom: the case of Brexit

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

European Sociological Review

Authors

Stuart Fox, Jennifer May Hampton, Esther Muddiman and Chris Taylor

Publication date

Summary

Euroscepticism is increasingly important to the shaping and understanding of contemporary European public opinion and politics. The origins of the trait, however, particularly the values that predispose individuals to view the European Union (EU) as a legitimate (or otherwise) political institution, remain poorly understood. Literature on political socialization identifies the family as a vital influence on the development of many social and political attitudes. This study explores the role of the family in the development of Euroscepticism by examining evidence of intergenerational transmission of hostility towards membership of the EU between parents and children in the United Kingdom during its ‘Brexit referendum’. The study shows that the attitudes of parents during one’s politically formative years can be an important factor in shaping support for EU membership. It also finds that this intergenerational transmission is different for mothers and fathers: while there is a greater likelihood of a child’s attitudes being affected by those of their father, if they are affected by their mother’s views they are more likely to eventually share their mother’s position on EU membership. This identifies the family as a key source of the values that shape support for European integration, potentially accelerating or opposing other social trends that have resulted in successive generations typically being more supportive of EU membership.

Volume and page numbers

35, 380-393

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcz005

ISSN

16

Subjects

Politics, Older People, Public Opinion, Elections. Electoral Behaviour, Young People, Life Course Analysis, Social Attitudes, International Economic Relations, Sociology Of Households and Social Psychology

Links

Notes

Open Access; © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.