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MA Journalism student investigates why people voted the way they did in EU referendum

One of our MA Journalism students has been investigating why members of the public chose to vote the way they did in the EU referendum, in a bid to encourage people to examine how we relate to each other. 

Pooja Chavan, who is 24 and originally from Pune, India, exhibited her work, entitled The world we want, at the MA degree show at our Farnham campus. Pooja was inspired to carry out the project by her own experiences of growing up feeling stuck between trying to adhere to different cultural and societal expectations while at the same time finding herself escaping them.

Pooja said: “This project was a chance to open doors for free expression and self-reflection towards a vision people have about the world they want to live in. I think Brexit brought up a lot of issues – whether people voted to leave or to remain – that revolved around national sovereignty, what we stand for and the expectations that we have for the future.” 

Investigating how people felt on both sides of the Brexit debate, Pooja travelled to numerous events, parties, pubs and cafes around the South East and South West of England and throughout London to interview a diverse group of voters and gain a snapshot understanding of the kind of world people want to live in. Asking interviewees to complete the two sentences ‘I want to live in a world where…’ and ‘To create this world, I will…’, Pooja was able to develop a picture of why people voted the way they did and of the significance of interaction and connection between people. 

“My project uncovered some interesting points as to how people feel towards the EU,” Pooja said. “Some interviewees said that they don’t consider themselves to be European and that the EU had become a way to prop up the Euro, while others suggested that they were concerned that the UK was losing its authentic identity and culture because of immigration. Both leave and remain voters highlighted that they felt like the EU dictates to the UK and that they were worried about a lack of sovereignty. A particularly interesting point raised in my interviews was that some migrants from Ghana had voted to leave because they don’t feel that it is fair that Europeans can enter the UK more easily than people from Ghana since Britain’s ties with their country were severed.

“While Brexit uncovered many deep-seated concerns on issues including national identity and the way people relate to each other, the referendum provided an opportunity for me to interrogate people’s hopes, aspirations and fears to create a narrative of possibility.

“I started this journey to find answers to why it is so difficult for me to be the way I am just because I don’t fit into the box that people think I should because of my colour and nationality,” Pooja added.  “I wanted to find out if a girl who has my skin colour can do and become anything whilst being herself. Growing up, I was told things like I couldn’t go to sleepovers or go on trips with friends because it wasn’t part of my culture, but it was part of the culture that I was surrounded by. People aren’t prone to be the same based on their nationality and race and not everyone grows up to be the way they do based on these factors.”