Moral regulation and a good moral panic: UK Polish migrant workers and the 2016 EU Referendum

Ian Fitzgerald, Rafal Smoczyński*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The UK 2016 EU Referendum has introduced a period of uncertainty for both the indigenous population and for non-British citizens. This uncertainty is considered within a framework of the recent revisions in the sociology of moral panics through an analysis of interviews with Polish migrant workers. This analysis reveals two main discursive framing logics. The first logic refers to a self-reported anti-Polish migrant moral panic discourse that – according to respondents – was exploited by British anti-migrant campaigners. The second type of articulation illustrates the good moral panic logic, namely, a panicking discourse appearing among respondents about the vulnerability of their community in post-Referendum Britain. This article, however, problematises the good moral panic logic by eliciting competing narratives found in the interview data. The latter did not aim merely at stimulating caring attitudes but referred also to moral regulation techniques to manage Brexit-oriented risks and avoid the trap of becoming a vulnerable migrant.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001139212110247
Pages (from-to)379-397
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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