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Brexit/voice: the role of hope in resistance

RegNet Conversations on Resistance


Sharon Friel, Val Braithwaite, Jesse Clarke and Daniel Reeders


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU


Tuesday, 22 November, 2016 - 12:30 to 13:30

Resistance is a core concept for understanding regulation and governance. Resistance can mean active social mobilisation to change policy, non-compliance or resistance that is so quiet or passive that it is hard to identify.

In an era of increasingly polarised politics and populist anger, RegNet’s Conversations on Resistance seminar series in the month of November will focus on this concept and various manifestations of resistance across several contexts.

The seminars will address the following questions: what kinds of methodologies are best suited to examine resistance? What are the mechanisms of resistance? To whom or what is resistance directed? Who benefits from resistance? What roles do leaks and whistle blowers play in understanding the phenomenon of resistance? Specific topics will include asylum seekers, indigenous resistance, everyday resistance and the Brexit.

The following four seminars are scheduled on Tuesdays in November:

Please visit the links above for more detailed information about each Conversations On Resistance seminar and to register.

The last seminar in the series is Brexit/voice: the role of hope in resistance.

Stafford, Cannock, Wolverhampton. Different towns, same message: “There’s no decent work”; “the politicians don’t care about us”; “we’ve been forgotten”; “betrayed”; “there’s too many immigrants, and we can’t compete with the wages they’ll work for”. Nobody used the word humiliation, but that’s the sense I got. (Mike Carter, The Guardian, 27 June 2016)

The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom came as a surprise, with Leave voters apparently voting against their interests, against the preferences of political elites, and against the widespread predictions of polls. In the aftermath, commentary attributed the result to ignorance and racism, citing inflows of EU subsidies to regions voting Leave as evidence the result was irrational.

But analyses of voting patterns suggest the Leave vote was concentrated in areas where the downsides of globalisation and neoliberal social and economic policy have been most keenly felt. Austerity strategies adopted during the global financial crisis on the pretext of ‘fixing the budget’ have led to Britain back-sliding on measures of social fairness – which in turn predict the Leave vote.

This panel explores the implications of the Brexit vote as an expression of political resistance. In the United States, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild describes the ‘deep story’ underpinning the popularity of Trump as an intensely-felt loss of trust in regulatory, democratic, and redistributive institutions.

Albert O. Hirschman famously describes two possible responses to loss of trust in institutions: exit, or voice, each expressing different degrees of loyalty. The Brexit vote may reflect a critical mass of voters, cutting across traditional party lines, seeking exit not just from the EU but also the bipartisan political consensus on neoliberalism and the inevitability of globalisation.

Does the sustainability of neoliberalism depend on the existence of vibrant discourses of resistance? Does the Leave vote express racism or a sense of economic injustice, or both? What role does hope and trust play in resistance – or in sustaining unfair institutions? What are the implications of Brexit for health and human rights?

About the Speakers

Sharon Friel is Professor of Health Equity and Director of RegNet and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy.

Val Braithwaite holds a professorial appointment at RegNet, where she studies psychological processes in regulation and governance.

Daniel Reeders is a PhD candidate at RegNet who has a longstanding interest in the role of culture and community in movements for social change.

Jesse Clarke is currently an Assistant Secretary in the Office of International Law of the Attorney-General’s Department where he is responsible for practice groups providing advice on international human rights and refugee law, law of the sea, environmental law, international criminal law, and air and space law. As a dual national, Mr. Clarke worked as a legal adviser at the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office from 2007-2015 where he advised on a broad range of matters arising under public international law, European law and public law.

Between 2012 and 2015, he served as First Secretary (Legal Affairs) at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he represented the UK in a variety of legal fora (including the Security Council and General Assembly) and advised on a wide range of international legal issues arising from the UK’s foreign policy priorities at the UN.

In 2011-2012, Mr. Clarke spent a year as a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Law School where he taught courses on Government Lawyering and International Law. He has previously been a Senior Legal Officer in the Office of International Law at the Attorney-General’s Department, a Senior Associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (London), an Associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP (New York), and as an Associate to the Hon. Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia.

Mr. Clarke holds an LL.M. (International Law) from the University of Cambridge and an LL.B. and B.A. (Hons. Government) from the University of Sydney.

Please register your interest in attending via this webform. The email you provide at registration will only be used to contact you if the seminar is rescheduled or venue is changed.



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