European Political Science

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 97–111 | Cite as

Britain’s EU referendum: How did political science rise to the challenge? An assessment of online contributions during the campaign

  • Stuart A. BrownEmail author


The Brexit referendum was an unprecedented event in the context of British politics, but it was also a defining moment for the discipline of political science. Never before had political scientists in the UK faced such demand for public engagement against the backdrop of a highly polarised electoral campaign. This article assesses how scholars met this challenge by analysing online contributions to established academic websites in the 6 months prior to the vote. It highlights that high-profile political campaigns pose a distinct dilemma for political scientists: on the one hand, the reach of their contributions is far greater when they take a positional stance on an issue, yet the value of political science rests on its credibility, which can come under threat if the public perceives the discipline, and academics more generally, to represent partisan viewpoints.


EU referendum Impact Internet Media Public engagement 


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LSE European InstituteLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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