City Research Online

Brexit and Europe in Times of Crisis: Exploring the Construction of European Identity among Young People in London and Athens during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nakou, P. (2024). Brexit and Europe in Times of Crisis: Exploring the Construction of European Identity among Young People in London and Athens during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) faced a moment of profound social, political, and economic uncertainty. Young people under 30 years of age have been members of the European Union their entire lives, but recently they experienced the disentanglement of the UK from the EU. Leaving the EU fundamentally changes the nature of their relationship with their European counterparts. Brexit's social, political, and economic outcomes will most significantly affect the youngest and future generations. In the midst of this uncertainty, young Europeans are expected to make identity choices and to reshape their sense of belonging to different groups and societies. This research project draws on and contributes to contemporary studies of European identity from different disciplinary angles – notably sociology, history, political science, social psychology, and cultural studies. It aims to enhance our understanding of the development of political identities among young Europeans during the COVID-19 era. It provides a qualitative comparative analysis of the younger generation’s views on EU membership(s) and referenda, using the actual case of ‘Brexit’ and the hypothetical case of ‘Grexit’. It explores how young people in London and Athens construct, articulate, and negotiate their political identities, imaginaries, and sense of belonging to (supra)national communities. The data of this inquiry stems from 20 online focus groups with young (18 – 30 years of age) UK and Greek nationals (107 participants in total) during the COVID-19 pandemic (May – October 2020), shedding light on the ways young adults make sense of, cope with, and are shaped by unprecedented events and multiple crises. Drawing on insights from social constructionism, the study uses thematic and discourse analysis to assess the symbolic production and representation of identities, worldviews, and values across different regional, national, and continental contexts.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Nakou thesis 2024 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 May 2027 due to copyright restrictions.


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login