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Political Science European

Framing Risky Choices

Brexit and the Dynamics of High-Stakes Referendums

by (author) Ece Ozlem Atikcan, Richard Nadeau & Éric Bélanger

Publisher
McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2020
Category
European
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780228000808
    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price
    $32.95
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780228000792
    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price
    $120.00
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780228002253
    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price
    $32.95

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Description

The majority of policymakers, academics, and members of the general public expected British citizens to vote to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum. This perception was based on the well-established idea that voters don't like change or uncertainty. So why did the British public vote to take such a major economic risk? Framing Risky Choices addresses this question by placing the Brexit vote in the bigger picture of EU and Scottish independence referendums. Drawing from extensive interviews and survey data, it asserts that the framing effect – mobilizing voters by encouraging them to think along particular lines – matters, but not every argument is equally effective. Simple, evocative, and emotionally compelling frames that offer negativity are especially effective in changing people's minds. In the Brexit case, the Leave side neutralized the economic risks of Brexit and proposed other risks relating to remaining in the EU, such as losing control of immigration policy and a lack of funding for the National Health Service. These concrete, impassioned arguments struck an immediate and familiar chord with voters. Most intriguingly, the Remain side was silent on these issues, without an emotional case to present. Framing Risky Choices presents a multi-method, comparative, state-of-the-art analysis of how the Brexit campaign contributed to the outcome. Uncovering the core mechanism behind post-truth politics, it shows that the strength of an argument is not its empirical validity but its public appeal.

About the authors

Ece Özlem Atikcan is associate professor in politics and international studies at the University of Warwick.

Ece Ozlem Atikcan's profile page

Richard Nadeau is professor of political science at the University of Montreal and co-author of The National Question and Electoral Politics in Quebec and Scotland.

Richard Nadeau's profile page

Éric Bélanger is professor of political science at McGill University and co-author of The National Question and Electoral Politics in Quebec and Scotland.

Éric Bélanger's profile page

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