Catching Reality or Bowing Disciplines: How to Move the Study of Citizenship

Joppke, Christian Georg (2014). Catching Reality or Bowing Disciplines: How to Move the Study of Citizenship. Migration and Citizenship: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Migration and Citizenship, 2(2), pp. 11-15. American Political Science Association

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In his contribution, Joppke justifies his selection of foundational scholars by linking each to what he sees as the three key facets of citizenship: status, rights and identity. Maarten Vink explicitly links his research agenda to the first, status, and outlines why it is so important. In identifying three facets of citizenship, Joppke acknowledges that some academics would include political participation, but he ultimately decides against it. But here we can, and should, broaden citizenship studies by bringing in insights from the behavioral politics tradition in domestic politics - when and why people engage in political acts - and from the social movements literature in sociology. I believe that the American debate on immigration reform, admittedly stalled, would not have advanced as far as it has without the social movement activism of DREAMers - unauthorized young people pushing for a path to citizenship - and the belief that Barack Obama won re-election in part because of the Latino vote. Importantly, one type of political activism demands formal citizenship, the other does not. As many contributors note, the “national models” approach has had a significant impact on citizenship studies. Whether one views such models through a cultural, institutional or historical lens, this tends to be a top-down, macro-level framework. What about immigrants’ agency? In Canada, although the ruling Conservative government is shifting citizenship discourse to a more traditional language - as Winter points out - it has not reduced immigration, ended dual citizenship, or eliminated multiculturalism, all goals of the Reform Party that the current prime minister once helped build. “Lock-in” effects (or policy feedback loops) based on high immigrant naturalization and the coming of age of a second-generation with citizenship also d emands study, in North America and elsewhere. Much of the research thus far suggests that political decisions over citizenship status and rights do not seem linked to immigrants’ political activism. State-centered decision-making may have characterized policy in the early post-World War II period in Europe (and East Asia?), but does it continue to hold today? Majority publics and immigrant-origin residents are increasingly politicized around citizenship and immigration. Does immigrant agency extend citizenship status, rights and identity to those born outside the polity? Is electoral power key, or is protest necessary? How is citizenship practiced, and contested, irrespective of formal status? These are important and understudied empirical questions, ones that demand theoretical creativity - across sub-fields and disciplines - in conceptualizing and understanding citizenship in contemporary times.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology

UniBE Contributor:

Joppke, Christian Georg


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science


American Political Science Association




Michalina Zofia Preisner

Date Deposited:

15 Apr 2015 14:58

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2017 12:19




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