8: Xenophobia, hostility and austerity: European migrants and civil society in Wales

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This chapter highlights turbulence and uncertainty in relation to contemporary patterns and processes of migration. This has been driven by a variety of causes including the international rise of populism and Brexit. Many EU citizens have been targeted in xenoracist incidents. A review of the academic and policy literature underlines how many accounts take an integrationist view of migrants’ participation in the UK. This presents them as passive and requiring support, rather than as being resourceful agents and civil society makers. The interview data discussed in this chapter reveal how the Brexit referendum result made many feel that they no longer belonged or were wanted. In turn, migrants’ experience of hostility and discrimination prompted some to be proactive, setting up and running new civil society initiatives to tackle dominant negative discourses of migrants in the UK. A further core finding is that volunteering and participation in civil society functions as an anchoring practice, helping individuals bond with their communities, both in terms of people and places. The analysis also reveals a major civic participation gap between migrants and non-migrants.

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Civil Society in an Age of Uncertainty
Institutions, Governance and Existential Challenges