Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


Right-wing populism has experienced a surge in popularity among advanced democracies around the world. The success of right-wing populism has changed the course of history for the United Kingdom, which, due to the success of Brexit, will become the first state to ever leave the European Union. Recent research has identified several potential grievances that have motivated support for right-wing populism. The first theory points to the economic grievances that result from the economic displacement that accompanies modernization. The second theory emphasizes cultural grievances, with those that feel their traditional values have been challenged and displaced taking part in a “cultural backlash.” The declinism theory states that populism is a result of people viewing society as declining, whether that be socially, culturally, or economically. The fourth and final theory states that those who lack social recognition and respect are the most likely to feel “left behind” and support right-wing populism. This analysis will focus on the “left behind” theory which accounts for educational and class differences that past theories have not been able to explain. We hypothesize that those who feel they are no longer respected or recognized in society are the most likely to support Brexit. Using an OLS regression, we find that those who perceive themselves to be part of a lower social class, feel they are not treated with respect, and maintain anti-immigration attitudes are more likely to support Brexit.