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CITIZENSHIP. In the modern world, citizenship is a legal status that bestows uniform rights and duties upon all members of a state. Modern citizenship is associated with equality before the law, freedom from arbitrary rule, and a basic sense of human dignity bound up with the idea of human rights. It is a powerful term that evokes not only the rights that citizens may claim, but also the duties to which they are called, including dying for one's country. In early modern Europe, the status of citizen was far feebler and more varied in nature. At the dawn of this period, there were no centralized national states, and the vast majority of the population were servile peasants who lived under the rule of a local lord. The idea of citizenship, that is, a body of free people bound by a common law, was restricted to those who enjoyed full rights of membership in privileged towns, the burghers or bourgeois. There was no concept of universal rights of citizens. Rights took the form of privileges that were legitimated by tradition and distributed inequitably according to place, rank, and membership in other corporate bodiesguilds, parliaments, universities, and the like. Urban citizenship was thus just one form of juridical status that coexisted alongside a wide array of corporate groups entitling members to rights and privileges.


In general, the citizenship of towns offered several kinds of benefits. Only citizens could hold municipal office and perhaps engage in lucrative urban trades. They enjoyed the privilege of being tried in a local court by their peers and were usually entitled to reduced taxes. Citizenship was commonly restricted to the propertied elite. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Geneva, for example, was divided into an inner core of "citizens" and "bourgeois" who exercised full urban rights, and a wider tier of "inhabitants" and "natives," who had the right to live in the city but not to participate in the most profitable professions or hold municipal office.

The actual type and worth of rights conferred by urban citizenship varied by town. In Zurich and London citizenship was not prerequisite for access to the guilds. In fact, guild membership could be a way to acquire citizenship. In sixteenth-century Antwerp, it was not uncommon for members of the city council to register for citizenship just before taking office. In some cases, acquisition of citizenship was turned into a routine commercial transaction. In theory, the laws of sixteenth-century Bologna made it difficult for naturalized citizens to hold municipal office. In reality, citizens selected for office frequently designated a substitute to fill the post, a practice that amounted to a form of office selling. Nonetheless, urban citizenship might offer important advantages to its members. Citizens of Antwerp (poorters), for example, could not be arrested without cause and were exempt from torture. This was of little concern until the 1540s when the number of registrations for citizenship in Antwerp suddenly jumped. At that time, the town council began to use Antwerp's citizenship rights to protect persecuted Protestants.

Citizenship entailed responsibilities as well as rights. Citizens might be required to serve in the urban militia and to pay local taxes supporting the cost of communal self-government and fortifications. The status of citizen was usually inherited, but it could also be acquired by foreigners. Usually, naturalization required establishing a residence within the city for an extended period of time, paying specified taxes, and taking on other obligations of urban membership. Frequently, citizenship was associated with social and moral qualities. Many central European cities refused citizenship to adulterers and bastards.

Citizenship first became the object of more systematic theoretical reflection in self-governing Italian city-states during the early Renaissance. The recovery of Aristotle and other classical authors, combined with the struggle of Italian city-states to assert their independence from emperors and foreign invaders, stimulated thinkers to clarify the basis of political community. One important strand drew on the work of Bartolus of Sassoferato and his pupil, Baldus de Ubaldis, the most influential jurists working in the Roman law tradition. They provided the first philosophical foundation for viewing the city-state as a fully independent, self-governing corporation of citizens.

A second important tradition drew on Florentine civic humanism. Humanists argued that the best form of government was elective, not monarchical, since elected rulers would best work to achieve the goals of the republic: to attain glory, sustain liberty, and preserve the common good. The civic humanist tradition culminated in the Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote in a period of tumult following the French invasion of Italy in 1494. Looking back to the tradition of the Roman Republic, Machiavelli urged his fellow citizens to prevent decline by practicing virtù. For Machiavelli, virtù meant the patriotic love of the republic that led citizens to place the welfare of the political community above individual interests. Good laws and institutions were also necessary to sustain virtù. Among the latter, the most important were civil religion to foster a spirit of unity and a citizen militia to encourage a spirit of self-sacrifice and bravery.


Given its classical, urban, and corporate roots, citizenship was not easily transferred to monarchical realms, where the king reputedly embodied the state and where vast aristocratic patron-client systems created webs of political obligation. A rudimentary idea of citizenship did distinguish native-born subjects of kingdoms (known as denizens in England, regnicoles in France, and naturales in Spain) from foreigners, who suffered various kinds of disabilities. In Spain, only naturales of the five kingdoms of Aragón could hold offices in their respective kingdoms, engage in transatlantic commerce, or emigrate to the New World. In England, aliens could not vote in parliamentary elections, hold real property, own a British ship, or engage in the profitable colonial trade. In France, foreigners or aubains (a term originally applied to outsiders moving into the jurisdiction of a feudal lord) paid special taxes, and the king could seize their property upon death. Naturalization removed these disabilities. Naturalization might require proof of assimilation into the national culture, as was the case in Spain, or merely be a routine bureaucratic procedure. In France, one had to do little more than offer evidence of Catholicity and French residence and pay the necessary fees. In England, aliens could apply to Parliament for a private naturalization act, a route that was generally closed to Jews, Catholics, and Dissenters. A lesser status of "free denizen," which bestowed the right to participate in the colonial trade, could be purchased by those groups, but it did not grant exemption from steep alien custom duties.

In most cases, the status of a woman, whether at the municipal or national level, followed that of her husband. At times, however, foreign women married to foreign men seeking naturalization were required to be naturalized independently of their husbands. Because women generally could not hold office or practice lucrative trades, naturalization was of less worth to them than to men. Citizenship for women tended to remain a passive status that granted basic judicial protections, but did not authorize vital rights of political participation. Later, during the French Revolution, the secondary status of women was reconfirmed by the overt creation of "active" and "passive" categories of citizenship.

Throughout the early modern period, the quest for religious freedom and the evolution of citizenship remained closely tied. In the medieval world, the political community was also a closed community of Christian believers. Jews were outsiders, frequently banished, and allowed residence in certain countries only if they lived in specified locales, wore distinctive dress, paid special taxes, and the like. With the Reformation, Christian unity was shattered and states were "confessionalized," so that the enjoyment of civil and political rights became tied to membership in the established church of the realm. Religious dissenters might be prohibited from holding office, bequeathing property, joining guilds, obtaining an education, marrying, bringing up their own children, and receiving a Christian burial. In certain cases, toleration was granted as a concession from the ruler or in limited form, such as the right to private worship. Freedom of religion as a universal right of citizenship, however, was only conceptualized after natural law theory offered a nondoctrinal way of legitimating membership in the state.


The period of religious revolt in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was critical to the rise of absolutist citizenship. Rebellious subjects invoked rights of the "ancient constitution" against absolute monarchs, or cited resistance theories that vested sovereignty in the ambiguous notion of "the people." The bloodshed of the period led royal theorists to define the citizen as a subject who owed unquestioned obedience to the sovereign in return for protection. In his Six Books of the Commonwealth, Jean Bodin stated that the citizen was "a free subject who is dependent on the sovereignty of another" (p. 19). Approximately a century later, in De Cive, or, The Citizen (1642), Thomas Hobbes presented a contractual theory of political society in which men voluntarily gave up the natural rights that they enjoyed in the bellicose state of nature to a ruler or ruling body in order to gain security: ". . . each citizen is called the subject of him who hath the chief command" (p. 68).

Despite Hobbes's theorizing, subjects showed themselves determined to hold onto historic rights. After James II was ousted from the English throne during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a Bill of Rights declared that hierarchically ordered "estates" would be maintained in their "ancient rights and liberties." At the same time, John Locke's Second Treatise on Government pointed the way toward a far more radical interpretation of rights as abstract, natural, and universal in scope. For Locke, rights were "inalienable," derived from a free and egalitarian state of nature. Governments were not products of dynastic inheritance or divine will: they were artificial creations grounded in popular consent whose central purpose was to secure citizens' rights. Popularized through tracts such as Cato's Letters, a Lockean conception of rights ultimately became one of the major foundations of the American Declaration of Independence.

By the eighteenth century, then, the usage of the word "citizen" had begun to shed its absolutist association with "subject" and break free from the idea of graded ranks and historically conditioned privileges. This transformation was part of a wider linguistic shift. Words connoting a vertical ordering of society organized by notions of deference and command were abandoned or took on new meaning. The word "king" became uncoupled from "nation," which he had previously embodied. The word "society" no longer meant a business partnership, but a universal field of human relations. Social gradations still existed, but they were often described as classes, which implied productivity and individual effort, rather than as estates, orders, or corps, which suggested a preexisting, divinely sanctioned hierarchy. In the article "Citizen" in his Encyclopedia, Denis Diderot defined the citizen not in terms of participation in the privileges of a city, but as "a member of a free society . . . who partakes of the rights of that society and enjoys its privileges."

Two moral qualities were particularly associated with the citizen: utility and virtue. Political economists spread the idea that the most powerful state was the one that counted the greatest number of "industrious" men. The pursuit of plenty, according to these thinkers, was not something to be scorned for its corruption of civic spirit, but to be praised for its ability to unleash national productive power. Utility did not necessarily negate hierarchy, but it did shift the justification for social ranks from innate qualities, like noble birth, to functional attributes available to any hardworking person.

Virtue continued to be defined by reference to classical republican qualities. In his Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu spoke of virtue in terms of "the love of our country, of the thirst of true glory, of self-denial, of the sacrifice of our dearest interests, and of all those heroic virtues which we admire in the ancients" (Vol. I, Bk. III.5, p. 23). Yet virtue also acquired enlightened overtones of sociability and humanitarianism. Rousseau spoke of virtue not only in terms of patriotic self-sacrifice, but also of sensibility and pity revealed through the inner voice of the conscience. For Rousseau and others, virtue was a humanitarian sentiment most easily found among the common people. By imparting moral worth to ordinary people, virtue legitimated their quest to gain a political voice.

Many rejected the ideals of classical republicanism as a model for citizenship altogether. The direct democracy suitable to small, face-to-face societies like the ancient republics would not work in large, culturally diffuse states. Furthermore, too much popular participation had opened up ancient republics to constant factionalism. Rather than relying on direct democracy, men like Jean Louis de Lolme argued, it would be better to set up a passive system of representation and create institutional checks and balances to channel the interests of the people toward the common good. Ancient republics, furthermore, had practiced slavery, denigrated women and domestic life, spurned commercial development, and even permitted infanticide. Republican citizenship would have to be made compatible with the technological progress, commercial prosperity, and humane virtues that most enlightened elites endorsed.


By the end of the eighteenth century, then, two visions of republican citizenship had emerged. One, often labeled "liberal," was derived from a natural law tradition and emphasized the rights of individuals, representation, and material progress. It was concerned with checking arbitrary power and securing the conditions that would allow men and women to enjoy the fruits of their labor in peace. A second, more activist and communal strand inspired by classical republicanism appealed to civic virtues of self-sacrifice, public-spiritedness, and the constant vigilance of citizens against enemies of freedom.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau brought elements of both traditions together in The Social Contract, a treatise meant to serve as an ideal, not an actual blueprint, for society. According to Rousseau, men in their natural state were free and equal, but they were also amoral and governed by instinct. Men reached their full human potential only through the exercise of citizenship. In the social contract, each individual gave up his powers from the state of nature to everyone else in order to form a state. The essence of citizenship, then, was participation in the social contract, which created a state of morality, civil freedom, equality, and democratic participation. Citizens were bound by law, but remained free, because they imposed laws on themselves. Citizens were equal before the law, because everyone came into the social contract under the same terms. The public interest or "general will" served as the ultimate source of law, because all individuals had sacrificed their private interests to become part of the state. For Rousseau, citizenship was a legal status, but not a passive one, as it implied moral duties and active participation.

The actual transition to a new form of citizenship stemmed from the practical need to make states more competitive in war. In France the monarchy contributed to a more egalitarian definition of society by attempting to tax privileged members of society. Royal reforming ministers and their allies argued that payment of taxes defined citizenship, because all members of society, even the privileged, owed the state taxes in return for protection. As the Physiocrat writer LeTrosne declared in his work on tax reform, ecclesiastical tax exemptions put the clergy "outside the class of citizens" and stripped them "of all right to civil protection" (p. 501). In reply, the most powerful corporate bodies in France, the sovereign courts known as parlements, stretched corporate politics to the breaking point and went beyond their traditional defense of "fundamental laws." Claiming to speak for "the Nation," the parlements stated that the nation had a right to consent to taxes and thereby made themselves virtual co-sovereigns with the king.

The bankruptcy of the French government in 1788 proved that a new organization of the state was necessary. Drawing on political economy and social contract theory, the Abbé Sieyès in What Is the Third Estate? laid out the terms of modern citizenship as a national, egalitarian, and utilitarian status. Citizens were members of the nation, that is, "a body of associates living under common laws" (p. 55). Since privileges were exemptions from the common law, all those who enjoyed privileges, notably the nobility, were noncitizens. Eventually, this logic was used to justify the execution of the king, since an absolute monarch stood outside the common law formed by the social contract and thus could be judged, as Saint Just argued in 1792, "not as a citizen, but as a rebel" (p. 123). Enshrined in "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" of 1789, citizenship became synonymous with both the enjoyment of fundamental rights and a new vision of national sovereignty. Rather than being one legal status among many in a corporate society, citizenship had become the primary status mediating all other juridical relationships in the state and the primary marker of human worth.

See also Bodin, Jean ; Cities and Urban Life ; Class, Status, and Order ; Democracy ; Diderot, Denis ; Enlightened Despotism ; Hobbes, Thomas ; Locke, John ; Machiavelli, Niccolò ; Monarchy ; Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat de ; Parlements ; Political Philosophy ; Political Secularization ; Revolutions, Age of ; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques .


Primary Sources

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Diderot, Denis. Political Writings. Edited and translated by John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler. Cambridge, U.K., 1992. Includes translation of Diderot's article on "Citizen" from his Encyclopedia.

Le Trosne, Guillaume François. De l'administration provinciale et de la réforme de l'impôt. Basel, 1779.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge, U.K., 1988.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Discourses. Translated by Leslie J. Walker, S. J. Edited by Bernard Crick. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1970. Translation of I discorsi.

Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat de. The Spirit of the Laws. 2 vols. in one. Translated by Thomas Nugent. New York, 1959. Translation of L'esprit des lois (1748).

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract. Translated by Maurice Cranston. London, 1968. Translation of Du contrat social (1762).

Saint-Just, Louis Antoine Léon de. "Speech at the Trial of the King, November 13, 1792." In Regicide and Revolution: Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI. Translated by Marian Rothstein. Edited by Michael Walzer. Pp. 120127. New York, 1974.

Sieyès, Emmanuel Joseph. What is the Third Estate? Translated by M. Blondel. New York, 1963. Translation of Qu'est que le tiers état? (1789).

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Baker, Keith Michael. "Transformations of Classical Republicanism in Eighteenth-Century France." Journal of Modern History 73 (March 2001): 3253.

Boone, Marc, Simona Cerutti, Robert Descimon, and Maarten Prak. "Introduction: Citizenship Between Individual and Community, 14th18th Centuries." In Statuts individuels, statuts corporatifs et statuts judiciares dans les villes européenes (moyen âges et temps modernes), edited by Marc Boone and Maarten Prak. Leuven, 1996.

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Gail Bossenga

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Citizenship: Overview

Citizenship: Overview

Citizenship consists in sharing a political community, and enjoying the benefits and assuming the political responsibilities that give effect to this experience of shared political community. If the purpose of political philosophy is to provide a principled account of the nature and appropriate boundaries of political community, then it makes sense to say that the tradition of political philosophy from Aristotle to the present is more or less defined by a tradition of reflection on the normative foundations of citizenship. In an important sense, then, the whole history of political philosophy offers a continuing reflection on and dialogue about the nature of citizenship, and it is not clear that one can give a full report on the history of reflection about citizenship with anything less than a thorough and comprehensive account of the history of political philosophy in its totality. This is impossible here, and therefore a short summary of basic themes in the tradition of political philosophy, and its relation to thinking concerning the meaning of citizenship, will have to suffice.

Citizenship in the History of Political Philosophy

Book three of The Politics by Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.) is the first treatise on citizenship, and it remains an essential reference point for all subsequent reflection on what it means to be a citizen: "The citizen in an unqualified sense is defined by no other thing so much as by sharing in decision and office. Who ever is entitled to participate in an office involving deliberation or decision is a citizen in this city; and the city is the multitude of such persons that is adequate with a view to a self-sufficient life" (p. 87). Aristotle's definition of citizenship sounds modest enough, but in fact it encapsulates an awesomely ambitious account of what is required in order for human nature truly to flourish. Aristotle's account of what it means to be a citizen is intended to be a conceptualization of the experience of free, native-born males in the polis as a unique site for the development of properly human capacities. What the definition affirms is that only a very small number of human beings in the history of humankind (and only a minority of the inhabitants of Athens even during the age of the polis) have been in a position to realize their full humanity because they happen to be members of the kind of political community that uniquely gives play to their properly human (political or polis-based) capacities.

In republican Rome the idea of citizen virtue was detached from the robust theory of moral development offered by Aristotle, and saw its crowning ideal in a practice of courageous military heroism in defense of the free state. Still, the Roman drive for glory, honor, and power to defend the liberties of collective, aristocratic self-rule was regarded as double-edged by one of the great Christian fathers, St. Augustine of Hippo (354430). While praising the Romans in his City of God for such a long-lasting and glorious state, Augustine called upon Christian believers (and those who felt themselves to be future citizens of heaven) to recognize the pride residing in these Roman ideals of citizenship, and to see the ultimate futility of all earthly ambitions. Christians, as pilgrims in this world, should adopt a stance of submission, disengaging themselves from the ideals of active participation. Augustine saw in the ultimate failure of human enterprises an opportunity to cultivate humility and acceptance of God's will.

It has long been thought that, following Augustine, the ideals of citizenship were largely absent from medieval thinking and only reappeared in the Western tradition in the Italian Renaissance. However, more recent research has shown the deep historical roots of the links between the language of citizenship and the struggle for communal independence throughout Europe (see Höfert). The lingering presence of Roman law, along with the emergence of a class of burghers who sought new forms of political influence, gave rise to political struggles in which the language of citizenship became, once again, salient.

Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527), particularly in his Discourses on Livy, is regarded as the most famousas well as the most controversialdefender of citizen liberties. Inspired by the ideal of civic virtue as practiced by the Romans, he called for a new ethos of devotion to the political community sealed by a practice of collective self-rule and self-defense. Needless to say, Machiavelli's conception of the citizen-body remains emphatically patriarchal, as is the case, with rare exceptions, for the entire political theory tradition until recent times. Understanding of the internal and external challenges to the survival of the free state led him to recognize that the duties of successful leadership of a free state would necessitate actions that would, at times, contravene the precepts of conventional morality. Nonetheless, he praised republics over principalities, for it was only through collective self-rule that the greatest number could guarantee their personal autonomy and independence and thereby achieve a more lasting and glorious state.

Post-Reformation religious struggles in Europe gave rise to new accounts of the proper relation between rulers and their peoples, especially in matters of religious practice. While these debates were initially more relevant to individuals as subjects of absolute rulers, they brought about broader reflection on the concept of natural individual rights, which would later become a powerful tool in the struggle against absolutist rule. The Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke (16321704), is the best-known account, harnessing the idea of individual rights to a notion of collective sovereignty even though Locke does not reject monarchy. Still, with the advent of commercial society, the possibility of fusing the promotion of individual liberties with a form of government that would require very limited participation on the part of all citizens was increasingly regarded as an attractive alternative. It has meant that in the modern era the quality of citizenship has often been judged more by the accountability of liberal democratic governments toward their citizenry than by the actual forms and degrees of popular participation. But this new synthesis has not been without its critics: modern theorists, notably Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778), have drawn on more ancient accounts of citizen virtue to decry the lack of active participation in collective self-rule as an ongoing assault upon true popular liberties.

On the Social Contract, by Rousseau, and The Philosophy of Right, by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831), remain the two most important modern treatises on citizenship. At the core of Rousseau's political philosophy is the idea that modern human beings should be judged by the (suitably high) standard of the ancient experience of citizenship. When Rousseau claims, in a note to Social Contract (Book one, chap. 6), that modern men know only what it means to be bourgeois and have no notion of what it means to be a citoyen (citizen), he makes perfectly clear how deficient he regards modern human beings in relation to this standard. This celebration (mythicization?) of ancient citizenship has of course not gone uncontested within modern political thought: just as Rousseau challenged the Lockean synthesis outlined above, so Rousseau's account of citizenship in turn was challenged vigorously by subsequent liberals. Hence it has been one of the chief theoretical purposes defining liberal political theory going back to Charles de Montesquieu (16891755)or perhaps going back to Thomas Hobbes (15881679) if one considers Hobbes part of the liberal traditionprecisely to challenge the normative superiority of classical republicanism. This has been nicely summarized by J. G. A. Pocock: "[Thinkers such as Montesquieu, David Hume (17111776), and Adam Smith (17231790)] argued that the virtuous man of antiquity was obliged by the lack of a free market to live off the labour of slaves who worked his land and gave him the leisure to serve the republic. His 'virtue' made him harsh and barbaric; even his moral personality was impoverished by his inability to exchange goods with his fellows. [With the development of the market, the] rigid and fragile virtue of antique man was replaced by the greater flexibility of 'manners'" (Pocock, p. xxi). Hegel, with his huge debt to the vindication of modernity contained in the classical political economy tradition (see Plant), represents perhaps the crowning expression of the thought that citizenship in the modern liberal state cannot be exhausted by the notion of citizens unwaveringly committed to the exertions of civic virtue. Hegel, in common with other liberals, believed that consciousness of rightful membership in the modern state must incorporate a clear acknowledgment of the legitimacy and, indeed, moral necessity of the energies that individuals invest in their private lives.

Reading Rousseau gives one the impression that the most powerful theorizing about citizenship is located outside of, and in polemical opposition to, the liberal tradition. But students of the history of political philosophy should never forget that there is at the same time a decisively important tradition of reflection about citizenship and civic virtue within liberalism. Alexis de Tocqueville (18051859) and John Stuart Mill (18061873) are two great exemplars of civic theorizing within the liberal tradition. For all Mill's apprehensions about an unrestricted franchise, and for all Tocqueville's anxieties about the unwelcome consequences of the culture of democracy, both of them were strongly committed to enhancing the civic dimension of liberalism, and in that sense, both are important modern theorists of citizenship.

Citizenship in Contemporary Debates

Not surprisingly, the problem of citizenship has continued to shape contemporary debates in political philosophy. Communitarianism, at least as expressed in the work of Charles Taylor and Michael Sandel, presented itself as a new vocabulary for articulating an old complaint about the attenuated character of liberal citizenship. (This is emphatically not the case with the communitarianism of Alasdair MacIntyre, who fundamentally rejects modern nation-state-based citizenship as a site for moral community.) In the case of Sandel, for example, the more he has continued to develop his theoretical concerns, the clearer it has become that his real concern is not with community per se, but rather with the eclipse of richer possibilities of civic engagement and civic identity in an age dominated by liberal-proceduralist conceptions of politics. This basically civic-republican critique of liberalism should be set within a broader resurgence of civic-republican theorizing. Civic republicanism has surged back to life, philosophically, in the influential work of Hannah Arendt and, in a more historical vein, in the work of John Pocock, Quentin Skinner, and Philip Pettit.

More recently, new challenges to liberal citizenship have arisen in the debates about feminism and multiculturalism. As regards the latter, important arguments have been mounted to the effect that civic norms defined within the horizon of liberalism cannot do justice to the profound forms of cultural diversity ("deep diversity") that characterize virtually all political communities today. The basic multiculturalist idea is that liberal societies cannot fully honor the citizenship of their members if essential aspects of the identity of those members are slighted or treated as irrelevant to citizenship. Like any doctrine in political theory, multiculturalism comes in strikingly different versions. In Iris Young's view, liberal citizenship must be radically reconstructed so as to acknowledge an emphatic "politics of difference." In Will Kymlicka's more moderate view, accommodations to cultural difference are themselves required by liberal justice, rightly understood. According to the latter view, multiculturalism is merely a more effective (and more just) vehicle for the integration of minorities into a liberal civic regime, whereas according to the former view, the liberal vision of citizenship is intrinsically flawed, since liberal universalism is simply a mask for the hegemony of a majority culture.

At the same time, one can say that the powerful challenges to liberal understandings of citizenship generated by communitarian, civic-republican, and multiculturalist theorists have provoked, in response, more robust and more philosophical theories of citizenship from the liberal side. Jürgen Habermas's theory of communicative action can be interpreted as a new liberal (or post-liberal) doctrine of citizenship, and John Rawls's ambitious meditation on the notion of "public reason" in the latter phase of his intellectual career offers another such doctrine. The fundamental issue is posed by Rawls in relation to what he calls "civic humanism" ("classical republicanism" he regards as a more modest doctrine): "[Civic humanists believe that] the activity in which human beings achieve their fullest realization, their greatest good, is in the activities of political life. [Liberal justice as Rawls understands it] rejects any such declaration; and to make the good of civil society subordinate to that of public life it views as mistaken" (Rawls, pp. 420421; cf. pp. 205206).

The opposing side is represented by Hannah Arendt when, at the conclusion of On Revolution, she endorses the ancient Greek solution to the problem, posed by Sophocles, of how "to bear life's burden": "It was the polis, the space of men's free deeds and living words, which could endow life with splendor" (Arendt, p. 285). The issue here, as it was originally in Aristotle's doctrine of citizenship, is whether civic life constitutes a privileged location for the expression of our proper humanity, or whether it ought merely to furnish a procedural framework for more diverse, privately defined activities in which we express our humanity. So we see that one of the core debates that has animated political philosophy throughout its historyfor instance, in the argument between Rousseau, with his uncompromising republicanism, and his liberal critics such as Adam Smith (see Ignatieff) and Benjamin Constant (17671830)continues to be a living question in contemporary thought.

See also Civil Society ; Democracy ; Nation ; Political, The ; Social Contract .


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Aristotle. The Politics. Translated by Carnes Lord. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Beiner, Ronald, ed. Theorizing Citizenship. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Hegel, G. W. F. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Edited by Allen W. Wood. Translated by H. B. Nisbet. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Höfert, Almut. "States, Cities, and Citizens in the Later Middle Ages." In States and Citizens: History, Theory, Prospects, edited by Quentin Skinner and Bo Stråth, 6375. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Ignatieff, Michael. The Needs of Strangers: An Essay on Privacy, Solidarity, and the Politics of Being Human. New York: Viking, 1984. See chapter four.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. Discourses on Livy. Translated by Harvey C. Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Plant, Raymond. "Hegel and Political Economy." New Left Review no. 103 (May/June 1977) and no. 104 (July/August 1977).

Pocock, J. G. A. "Introduction." In Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987.

Rawls, John. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Riesenberg, Peter. Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. On the Social Contract. Edited by Roger D. Masters. Translated by Judith R. Masters. New York: St. Martin's, 1978.

Juan GÓmez-QuiÑones

Born of Mexican parents in 1940 in Parral, Chihuahua, Juan Gómez-Quiñones has been active in the articulation and political negotiation of cultural citizenship since the 1960s. His experience in the United States' Chicano civil rights movement led to his authoring of foundational papers on the history and identity of Chicano peoples of the southwestern United States. Soon after, he expressed the importance of and developed an epistemology for Chicano studies as a new interdisciplinary field. Such efforts helped to establish Chicano studies in institutions of higher education throughout the nation. Among his published works are Chicano Politics: Reality and Promise, 19401990 (1990); Mexican American Labor, 17901990 (1994); and Roots of Chicano Politics, 16001940 (1994). In 1971 he helped found Aztlan: International Journal of Chicano Studies Research, the United States' premier journal of Chicana and Chicano studies. He is professor of history at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and lives with his family in Santa Monica, California. In 2003 UCLA presented him with the Rosenfield Distinguished Community Partnership Prize for community service.

Ronald Beiner

Rebecca Kingston

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CITIZENSHIP. The concept of citizenship was at the heart of the Constitution. When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," he drew upon the writings of the ancient Greeks Solon (circa 640–559 b.c.) and Pericles (490–429 b.c.) who had argued that the state has legitimacy only so far as it governs in the best interest of its citizens.

Jefferson argued that citizens were autonomous beings whose individual needs had value, and he said that governments that interfered with the fulfillment of those needs—"life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"—were tyrannical and unjust. By "all men," he meant every human being. That Jefferson continued to own slaves shows a profound weakness in his character, but men and women of many ethnic backgrounds understood his words to apply to them, and the ideals of Jefferson were the intellectual foundation upon which many revolutions would follow.

In America, those ideals encouraged abolitionists and suffragettes. When the Constitution was written, its authors were well aware of the ideals that had motivated Americans to fight for their freedom from England. They carefully began the Constitution with a radical, defiant idea. "We the People" is the opening phrase, and it is presented as if it were a decree. In a monarchical society, the monarch would refer to himself or herself as "we," because he or she believed as Louis XIV put it, "I am the state." In a monarchy, power flows down from the top: a person's power stems from his or her relationship to the monarch, and a person has only as many rights and duties as the monarch should choose to give. In "We the People," this is reversed; the power of the new American government is to flow upward, not downward, and the powers of those who govern are to be only as great as the citizens should choose to give.

What constitutes a citizen became a matter of urgent debate because equality and freedom were tied to citizen-ship. Article I of the Constitution made three references to citizenship, in Sections 2, 3, and 8 (clause 4), governing the House of Representatives, the Senate, and naturalization. Representatives had to have been citizens for seven years and senators for nine years; the U.S. Congress had the power to set the rules for naturalizing citizens. Missing is a definition of citizen, an important point because the representatives in the House were to be apportioned throughout the United States primarily on the basis of population. It was understood that this included free women and children, but did it include slaves? If it did, would the slaves therefore be citizens entitled to the liberties of the Constitution? For the time being, the slaves were not to be counted.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution declared that to be president (and therefore vice president, too), a "person" must be "a natural-born citizen" and must have "been fourteen years a resident within the United States." The purpose of this was to make illegal the imposing of a foreign ruler on the nation, but it left in doubt what "natural-born" meant, although it customarily was interpreted to mean born within the borders of the United States or born within the borders of the colonies that became the United States.

It was Article IV that would form the basis of the lawsuit Dred Scott v. Sandford that resulted in the infamous Supreme Court ruling of 1857. In Section 2, the constitution declares "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." Yet, the matter of who was a citizen was left to the individual state. Thomas Jefferson argued in the vein of Solon that only by being able to vote in the election of leaders is a person truly a citizen, and he argued that being able to vote was both a right and an obligation for every free person; he believed everyone who met the minimum age requirement should be able to vote. John Adams disagreed; he argued that only people who owned property had enough interest in maintaining a just and stable government and that only they should be allowed to vote. This latter idea implied two tiers of citizenship: one with all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and one with only limited rights and responsibilities that could change by a person's purchasing land. When the Bill of Rights was passed, it was intended to apply to all citizens, landed or not, but many understood the Bill of Rights applied only to property-owning citizens and no others, even foreign nationals who had resided in the United States for many years.

The Matters of Slaves and Women's Citizenship

Jefferson's view slowly supplanted Adams's view, but out of the Constitution emerged at least two explosive disagreements over who merited citizenship. One was over the status of women; the other was over the status of African Americans. After the adoption of the Constitution, there was an erosion of the civil rights of women throughout the country. In those states where women had once been able to hold public office or even vote, women were denied access to polling places. In general, women were held to have rights only through their relationship to husbands or close male kin. This sparked a branching in the abolitionist movement, as women abolitionists tied liberty for slaves to civil rights for women.

In 1857, the Supreme Court heard the appeal of the case of the slave Dred Scott, a slave who had filed suit claiming that when his master took him to a free state while in that state he should be a free man because that state forbade slavery. The court ruled that "negroes of the African race" whose ancestors were "imported into this country, and sold and held as slaves" were not "people" as the word was used in the Constitution, and they could not have citizenship and therefore they did not have even the right to file a lawsuit in the first place. This ruling actually contradicted the idea of "states' rights" as it was understood at the time, but the decision was a political one, not a constitutional one, and was intended to avoid the potential for civil strife between free states and slave states.

President Abraham Lincoln brought to office a view of citizenship born out of his upbringing on the frontier. He saw citizenship as a means for even the poorest Americans to seek redress of wrongs and to have access to education and other sources of social mobility. He summarized this in his Gettysburg Address, in which he said the government of the United States was "of the people, by the people, and for the people." It was his view that the government had no legitimacy beyond what the people gave it, yet in "for the people" he meant that the government was obliged to actively help its people in attaining their civil rights.

His supporters in Congress were called the "Radical Republicans" because they wanted to reshape America's institutions to reflect fully the sovereignty of the individual human being; to them "people" applied to every human being. Thus they sought the abolition of slavery, and most hoped to follow the emancipation of all slaves with the full enfranchisement of women because only by receiving the full protection of the Constitution, including the vote, could women attain a government that represented them; otherwise, according to Lincoln, Jefferson, and even Solon, the government would be tyranny. The Democrats, who had opposed the freeing of slaves, bitterly opposed changing the constitutional status of women.

The Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment was intended to clarify the nature of American citizenship. For instance, it tried to explain what a "natural-born citizen" was and how to determine it. Its broadest and most important innovation was the assertion of the federal government's authority over every state in all matters pertaining to citizenship. It declared that any citizen of the United States was automatically a citizen in any state in which that person resided, even if that person moved from state to state. It declared that in counting people for representation in the House of Representatives, every human being was to be included except for "Indians not taxed," which meant those Native Americans who retained their native nationality rather than assimilating into American society.

Best known from the amendment is "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The amendment was ratified 9 July 1868. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lawsuits have been filed on the basis of the amendment, but court rulings have had a checkered history. Although the amendment uses the word "person" throughout, women were still denied the right to vote and were denied full protection under the law in business and family dealings. When the issue of segregating African Americans from other Americans first came before the Supreme Court, it ruled that "separate but equal" was not a violation of equal protection under the law.

The Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution says, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." This was ratified 18 August 1920. If, in light of the Fourteenth Amendment, women were in fact already citizens, this amendment would seem unnecessary, but the earlier amendment had been turned on its head, as if it meant that those states in which women had full citizenship rights did not have the federal rights unless the federal government said so. With the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, women, by being able to vote, were to take on the full obligations and rights of citizenship and were no longer to be regarded as half persons, half nonentities.

Some Twentieth-Century Consequences

In 1954, the full effect of the Fourteenth Amendment began to be realized. In the case of Brown v. the Board of Education, the Supreme court ruled that separation of people based on race was inherently unequal, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This began a series of rulings in federal courts that redefined citizenship as a human right not to be abrogated by government, resulting in the 1971 ruling in Rogers v. Bellei that declared the government could not take citizenship from any American citizen except as allowed by the Fourteenth Amendment (treason) or if the citizen were a naturalized citizen who had lied to gain entry to the United States or gain citizenship. Those people who renounced American citizen-ship did not have a right to get it back.


Aleinikoff, Thomas Alexander. Semblance of Sovereignty: The Constitution, the State, and American Citizenship. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Bates, Stephen. "Reinvigorating Citizenship." Society 36, no. 3 (March–April 1999): 80–85.

Clarke, Paul Barry, ed. Citizenship. Boulder, Colo.: Pluto Press, 1994.

Denvir, John. Democracy's Constitution: Claiming the Privileges of American Citizenship. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Preiss, Byron, and David Osterlund, editors. The Constitution of the United States of America: The Bicentennial Keepsake Edition. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

Shklar, Judith N. American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Smith, Rogers M. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997.

Kirk H.Beetz

See alsoConstitution of the United States ; Indian Citizen-ship ; Naturalization ; Suffrage ; Women, Citizenship of Married ; andvol. 9:President Andrew Johnson's Civil Rights Bill Veto .

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Citizenship can be succinctly defined in terms of two component features. First, it constitutes membership in a polity, and as such it inevitably involves a tension between inclusion and exclusion, between those deemed eligible for citizenship and those who are denied the right to become members. In its earliest form in ancient Greece, the polity in question was the city-state. In the modern world, it was transformed during the era of democratic revolutions into the nation-state. Second, membership brings with it a reciprocal set of duties and rights, both of which vary by place and time, though some are universal. Thus paying taxes and obeying the law are among the duties expected of citizens in all nations, while the right to participate in the political process in various waysby voting, running for office, debating, petitioning, and so forthis an inherent feature of democratic citizenship. This leads to a final point: citizenship exists only in democratic regimes, for in nondemocratic ones people are subjects rather than citizens. In this regard, there are three crucial features that characterize the democratic political system: (1) the right to participate in the public sphere; (2) limitations on the power of government over the individual; and (3) a system based on the rule of law, not the arbitrary rule of rulers.

The principal fault lines used to define the boundaries of inclusion versus exclusion have historically been based on three major social divisions: class, gender, and race. And, indeed, though much has changed, these divisions remain significantand in fact tend to be intersecting. During the formative period of all the modern democratic regimes, beginning in the eighteenth century, the privileged white, property-owning male citizens were intent on disqualifying a majority of their nations residents from citizenship rights. Confronted with a disjunction between the egalitarian ideals of democratic theory and the desire to exclude from full societal membership certain categories of persons who did not share their class, gender, or racial identities, they responded by creating justifications for social exclusion. For their part, the white working class, women, and nonwhites responded, always in difficult circumstances and with varying degrees of success, by creating social movements aimed at acquiring the political voice that had been denied them. The white working class had, by the late nineteenth century, succeeded in being included, though not as genuine equals. A similar inclusion would come slower for women and racial and ethnic minorities, where in many cases this did not occur until the later part of the twentieth century. Thus, American blacks did not overcome the barriers created by Jim Crow until the 1960s, Australias Aboriginal population did not receive the right to vote until the same time, and in some Swiss cantons women did not acquire the right to vote until 1990.

As with inclusion, the development of the rights of citizens entails a dynamic process. Analyses of this process are generally framed in terms of the thesis advanced by the British social theorist T. H. Marshall, who distinguished between three types of rights: civil, political, and social. In his view, these types are distinct not only analytically, but also historically. Civil rights refer to such aspects of individual freedom as free speech, freedom of religious expression, and the right to engage in economic and civic life. Political rights involve those rights that ensure the ability to actively participate in the realm of politics. Finally, social rights involve the rights to various welfare provisions designed to guarantee to all a minimum standard of living necessary for the other two rights to be meaningful. Included are guarantees of educational opportunities, health care, decent and affordable housing, pensions, and so forth. Marshall thought that civil rights emerged in the eighteenth century, political rights in the nineteenth, and social rights in the twentieth, with the birth of modern welfare states. The historical record calls into question the unilateral depiction of the evolution of rights, but it is the case that all of the worlds liberal democracies did develop welfare states guaranteeing various forms of social rights. In his view, whereas the other types of rights do not challenge capitalisms production of unacceptable levels of inequality, social rights are intended to do so. Inequality does not cease to exist, but it becomes less consequential in shaping the life chances of individuals and impeding the goal of the equality of people qua citizens. The historical record indicates that welfare states have not actually managed to achieve this goal, and moreover, the neoliberal assault on the welfare state has resulted in an increase in levels of inequality.

Debates over the duties of citizens have pitted republican (and communitarian) theory versus liberal theory. The former position calls for an involved citizenry, while the latter is less inclined to ask or require citizens to be too actively engaged in politics. For example, republicans would be inclined to support universal conscription into military service or some alternative form of public service while liberals would not. Nevertheless, both positions believe that for democracies to succeed they need an informed and active citizenry. The distinction between the two traditions has much to do with differing perspectives on the levels of activity required. By the latter part of the twentieth century, a lively discourse emerged about the presumed tendency on the part of citizens in the United States, and to a somewhat lesser degree elsewhere, to withdraw from civic and political involvement, as evidenced, for instance, in the widespread interest in the Harvard political scientist Robert Putnams bowling alone thesis.

If in the past citizenship has been construed in terms of the individual, multiculturalism has raised the specter of the emergence of group rights. Although many, but not all, of the worlds liberal democracies have developed a multicultural sensibility, only two to date have implemented official state policies designed to promote multi-culturalism: Canada and Australia. While some observers contend that the multicultural moment has ended, they fail to appreciate its novelty, specifically, as the scholar Jeffrey Alexander has argued, insofar as it signals a new form of civil society. Moreover, even without explicit multicultural agendas, there is evidence of a growing appreciation that difference and integration are not necessarily antithetical.

Finally, there is evidence of a growing interest in developments that suggest the world is entering a new era in which the nation-states monopoly on defining citizenship is being challenged. In part, this is due to the rapid expansion of people with dual or multiple citizenships and the growing willingness by governments to legalize or tolerate this situation. This increase is largely attributable to transnational immigration, which though not entirely new is more significant today due to new communications technologies and improved transportation networks. Whether or not transnationalism is largely a phenomenon of the immigrant generation, or will persist into the generations of their children and grandchildren, is an unanswered question in the early twenty-first century. Likewise, it is also unclear whether dual citizenship becomes merely formal, in which the citizenship of primary residence is the only salient one, or whether active involvements in two nations political systems persist.

Second, as exponents of postnationalist thought contend, supra-state entities such as the United Nations and the European Union (EU) are increasingly coming to assume some of the roles traditionally located solely with the nation-state. This is particularly the case with the issue of human rights, where there is evidence of the embryonic form of a global human rights regime. It is also relevant to environmental concerns, as the Kyoto Protocol makes clear, for these are matters that transcend existing political borders. Although the EU is unique, the fact that citizens of its member states can treat their social rights as applying outside of their national boundaries signals yet a new development of interest. In such a situation, social rights are portable within the EU, thus for example allowing German retirees to move to Portugal while collecting their German pensions, while at the same time permitting Portuguese workers free access to German labor markets. Much remains uncertain about where these developments might lead, but given the pace of change since the mid-twentieth century many social scientists predict that the twenty-first century will see changes in the location of citizenship brought about by globalization. At the same time, some of the earlier enthusiasm about the prospects for the decline of the nation-state has been unrealized, and in fact in the so-called age of terrorism nation-states have reasserted themselves and in the process raised concerns about the erosion of some rights.

SEE ALSO Civil Rights; Civil Society; Immigrants to North America


Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2006. The Civil Sphere. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kivisto, Peter. 2002. Multiculturalism in a Global Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Kivisto, Peter, and Thomas Faist. 2007. Citizenship: Discourse, Theory, and Transnational Prospects. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Marshall, T. H. 1964. Class, Citizenship, and Social Development. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company.

Putnam, Robert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Turner, Bryan S. 1986. Citizenship and Capitalism. London: Allen & Unwin.

Peter Kivisto

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Citizenship: Naturalization

Citizenship: Naturalization

Citizenship rests with territory at the heart of the definition of nation-state. If territory determines the geographical limits of state sovereignty, citizenship determines a state's population. Beyond these limits one finds foreign land, foreign sovereignty, and foreigners. Drawing the boundary within which some human beings are included and others excluded as foreigners, permitting some of them to acquire citizenship with certain conditions and others to lose citizenship, is a state prerogative that requires legal tools. In citizenship law, the two most important legal tools traditionally used to determine citizenship are:

  1. Birthplace, or jus soli, the fact of being born in a territory over which the state maintains, has maintained, or wishes to extend its sovereignty.
  2. Bloodline, or jus sanguinis, citizenship as a result of the nationality of one parent or of other, more distant ancestors.

All nations use jus soli and jus sanguinis in defining attribution of citizenship at birth. However, two other tools are used in citizenship law, attributing citizenship after birth through naturalization:

  1. Marital status, in that marriage to a citizen of another country can lead to the acquisition of the spouse's citizenship.
  2. Past, present, or future residence within the country's past, present, future, or intended borders (including colonial borders).

In eighteenth-century Europe, jus soli was the dominant criterion of nationality in the two most powerful kingdoms: France and the United Kingdom. The state simply inherited feudal tradition: human beings were linked to the lord who held the land where they were born. The French Revolution broke with this feudal tradition. Against Napoléon Bonaparte's wish, the new civil code of 1804 granted French nationality at birth only to a child born to a French father, either in France or abroad. This policy of jus sanguinis, representing a modern innovation, was not ethnically motivated; it simply reflected the fact that individual rights and family had become more important than subjecthood and state power. This French innovation was borrowed extensively and became the law in Austria (1811), Belgium (1831), Spain (1837), Prussia (1842), Russia (1864), Italy (1865), Netherlands (1888), Norway (1892), and Sweden (1894).

The British tradition of jus soli, on the contrary, was transplanted, unamended and unbroken, to Britain's colonies in North America (the United States and Canada), Europe (Ireland), Africa (South Africa), and Australia. It also influenced Portugal and Denmark until the Nordic countries adopted a common nationality regime in the 1920s.

Were a population and territory to match one another exactly, attributing citizenship on the basis of jus sanguinis, jus soli or residence would not make any difference. Citizenship law would concern the same population and would have the same juridical effects. Further, naturalization would be irrelevant. It is the case, of course, that the population and territory of a nation-state do not coincide. People migrate and, with respect to migration, one can distinguish broadly between two different types of countries:

  1. "Countries of emigration" are countries where part of the core population resides outside the national boundaries, a characteristic applying to the majority of European countries before World War II (with the exception of France), and Mexico since the 1930s.
  2. "Countries of immigration" are those in which the majority of citizens are immigrants or descendents of immigrants, or whose foreign populations have settled as permanent residents alongside a majority population that is perceived to have existed since time immemorial and is not descended from immigrants. The United States, Canada, and Australia and countries of South America are examples of the former, while the latter category includes France since the mid-nineteenth century and all other western European countries since World War II.

The legal traditions of jus soli and jus sanguinis were maintained with consistency and relative ease in the majority of these different countries until World War II. In countries of immigration such as the United States, jus soli allows the children of immigrants to acquire citizenship automatically. For continental European countries that were countries of emigration, jus sanguinis allowed citizens abroad to maintain links until their descendants lost touch.

Since World War II, however, citizenship laws have converged across all democratic states, due to the large increase in the scale of migrations across the world. In many continental European states, large-scale postwar immigration led to legislative changes so as to permit increasingly large segments of the population born in their territories, namely second-and third-generation immigrants, to access citizenship more easily. Elements of jus soli have been included in their jus sanguinis tradition that extends citizenship automatically at birth to third-generation immigrants (France since 1889, the Netherlands since 1953, Spain since 1990, and Belgium since 1992). For the second generation, in many countries, children born to immigrants on national territory are entitled to citizenship if the child (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden) or one of the child's parents (Germany) has lawfully resided there for a period of years.

Countries with nationality laws based upon automatic jus soli often attracted a number of immigrants into their territory, encouraging these countries to become more restrictive. For example, the United Kingdom's imperial and expansive conception of territory, combined with its jus soli tradition, involuntarily encouraged immigration. Just after World War II, all subjects of the British Empire had access to British citizenship simply by residing in the territory of the United Kingdom proper. Since that time, British legislation on nationality has undergone a swift and silent revolution away from the extended and automatic jus soli to a 1981 law that attributes citizenship only to children born in U.K. territory to parents with legal residence status. The legal residence of parents has also been included as a requirement in the Portuguese and South African laws.

The trend toward convergence in nationality laws concerns almost all advanced industrial countries, insofar as they share three basic characteristics: democratic values, stable borders, and a self-perception as countries of immigration rather than of emigration. The importance of these three conditions is confirmed when considering exceptions to this rule, such as Israel and Russia. In both countries, there is a dominant perception that many of their citizens reside outside their borders, and that the bordersindispensable for the definition of the soliare not stable. Jus sanguinis thus remains at the center of both of their citizenship laws. But for all countries, regardless of their situation concerning migration or their level of development, there are two distinct lines of convergence in nationality laws. First, there has been a notable trend since the mid-twentieth century toward repealing provisions for the automatic acquisition of citizenship through marriage, a move motivated at the same time by the development of equal rights between men and women in nationality laws and by worries about fraudulent marriages with illegal aliens. Second, equal rights between men and women to transmit their citizenship to their children has produced the development of dual citizenship and more toleration of this phenomenon in many countries that formerly refused it (for example, Switzerland since 1990). What remains divergent are the rules for naturalization; that is, the processes by which foreign residents of the first generation access citizenship in a host country. States generally require a period of residence and knowledge of the language, and take into account a criminal record, but the details of these requirements still vary greatly, both in the formal requirements of nationality laws and in the practices through which these laws are enforced.

See also Americanization, U.S. ; Citizenship: Cultural Citizenship .


Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, and Douglas Klusmeyer. Citizenship Policies for an Age of Migration. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002.

Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, and Douglas Klusmeyer, eds. Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001.

Hansen, Randall, and Patrick Weil, eds. Dual Nationality, Social Rights, and Federal Citizenship in the U.S. and Europe: The Reinvention of Citizenship. New York: Berghan, 2002.

. Towards a European Nationality: Citizenship, Immigration and Nationality Law in the EU. Houndsmills, U.K., and New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Weil, Patrick. Qu'est ce qu'un français? Histoire de la nationalité française depuis la Révolution. Paris: Grasset, 2002.

Patrick Weil

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citizenship In political and legal theory, citizenship refers to the rights and duties of the member of a nation-state or city. In some historical contexts, a citizen was any member of a city; that is, an urban collectivity which was relatively immune from the demands of a monarch or state. In classical Greece, citizenship was limited to free men, who had a right to participate in political debate because they contributed, often through military service, to the direct support of the city-state. It is argued by historians that citizenship has thus expanded with democratization to include a wider definition of the citizen regardless of sex, age, or ethnicity. The concept was revived in the context of the modern state, notably during the French and American Revolutions, and gradually identified more with rights than obligations. In modern times citizenship refers conventionally to the various organizations which institutionalize these rights in the welfare state.

In sociology, recent theories of citizenship have drawn their inspiration from T. H. Marshall, who defined citizenship as a status which is enjoyed by a person who is a full member of a community. Citizenship has three components: civil, political, and social. Civil rights are necessary for individual freedoms and are institutionalized in the law courts. Political citizenship guarantees the right to participate in the exercise of political power in the community, either by voting, or by holding political office. Social citizenship is the right to participate in an appropriate standard of living; this right is embodied in the welfare and educational systems of modern societies. The important feature of Marshall's theory was his view that there was a permanent tension or contradiction between the principles of citizenship and the operation of the capitalist market. Capitalism inevitably involves inequalities between social classes, while citizenship involves some redistribution of resources, because of rights which are shared equally by all.

Marshall's theory has given rise to much dispute. Critics argue that it is a description of the English experience only, and it is not a comparative analysis of citizenship; that it has an evolutionary and teleological view of the inevitable expansion of citizenship, and does not examine social processes which undermine citizenship; it does not address gender differences in the experience of citizenship; it fails to address other types of citizenship, such as economic citizenship; and it is not clear about the causes of the expansion of citizenship. Some sociologists believe that Marshall's argument can be rescued from these criticisms if the original theory is modified. The continuing debate is reflected in the papers collected in M. Bulmer and and A. M. Rees ( eds.) , Citizenship Today: The Contemporary Relevance of T. H. Marshall (1996)

There are very different traditions of citizenship in different societies. Active citizenship, which is based on the achievement of rights through social struggle, is very different from passive citizenship which is handed down from above by the state (see R. Bendix , Nation-Building and Citizenship, 1964
). There are also very different theoretical approaches to understanding the structure of the public and private realm in conceptions of citizenship. For some sociologists, such as Talcott Parsons, the growth of citizenship is a measure of the modernization of society because it is based on values of universalism and achievement. These different theoretical traditions are primarily the product of two opposed views of citizenship: it is either viewed as an aspect of bourgeois liberalism, in which case it involves a conservative view of social participation, or it is treated as a feature of radical democratic politics; it is either dismissed as a mere reform of capitalism, or it is regarded as a fundamental plank of democracy. Recently, sociologists have gone beyond these traditional theories of democracy, liberalism, and civil society, to ask questions about the changing relationships between individuals, communities, and states, in a world in which the nation-state is increasingly subject to influences from supranational institutions. Will globalization replace state citizenship with a truly universal conception of human rights? (Speculative answers to this and related questions will be found in Bryan S. Turner ( ed.) , Citizenship and Social Theory, 1993.)
Jack Barbalet 's Citizenship (1988)
is an excellent discussion of the (now extensive) literature surrounding the concept.See also INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY.

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Women, Citizenship of Married


WOMEN, CITIZENSHIP OF MARRIED. Although original U.S. nationality legislation did not limit eligibility by sex, by 1804 the law began to make distinctions for married women. By the mid-1800s a woman's citizenship became, in the event of marriage, subsumed under her husband's status. In a law passed 10 February 1855, American nationality was conferred upon an alien woman who married an American citizen. And married immigrant women, who generally could not petition for citizenship independently, acquired U.S. citizenship only when their alien husbands were naturalized. Any American woman who married an alien could lose her U.S. citizenship (acquiring that of her husband), particularly if she chose to reside abroad. Long-standing debate over whether and how to enforce this latter practice was settled by a 1907 law, which dictated that all women acquired their husband's nationality upon marriage. Thus an American woman was stripped of her citizenship upon marriage to an alien, regardless of her residence. A woman might regain her U.S. citizenship if her husband naturalized (she would acquire his new status) or if the marriage terminated (she could petition to regain her American nationality).

The passage of the Married Women's Act, also known as The Cable Act (22 September 1922), reversed this trend by making some women's citizenship independent of their marital status. Demanded by women's rights activists, this law allowed an American woman to retain her nationality after marrying an alien. She was, however, reclassified as a naturalized citizen, losing her native citizen status. And if an American woman married an alien ineligible for citizenship (mainly Asians), she was still reclassified as alien. Immigrant women, moreover, continued to acquire American nationality upon marriage to a U.S. citizen. And there existed no provisions for married immigrant women to apply for citizenship as individuals. Revisions to this Act in the 1930s and subsequent legislation have addressed these issues, making the citizenship of wives absolutely independent of their husbands and ending any disability by reason of marriage.

Since 1934, children of a marriage between a woman having U.S. citizenship and an alien can acquire American citizenship by descent (derivative citizenship) on two conditions: (1) the woman must have lived in the United States before the birth of the child for a minimum of ten years, five of which must have been after she had reached the age of fourteen; (2) the child must establish this claim by residing in the United States for a minimum of two years between the ages of fourteen and twenty-eight, unless the alien parent was naturalized in the United States before the child reached eighteen and the child had established a permanent residence in the United States before that age.

An alien woman married to a U.S. citizen and lawfully admitted to permanent residence in the United States may be naturalized after three years residence, provided she resided in the country for half that time. The requirements of prior residence and physical presence can be waived when an alien woman is married to an American citizen who is engaged in missionary work abroad or who is stationed abroad by the U.S. government, an international organization with U.S. membership, an American research institution, or an American business. All the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 apply equally to men and women. U.S. citizenship may be acquired by birth in the country, by descent from an American citizen, or by naturalization.


Bredbenner, Candice Lewis. A Nationality of Her Own. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Cott, Nancy. "Marriage and Women's Citizenship in the United States, 1830–1934." American Historical Review 103 (December 1998).

Alona E.Evans


See alsoCitizenship ; Immigration Restriction ; Indian Citizenship ; Minor v. Happersett ; Naturalization .

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This entry includes three subentries:

Cultural Citizenship

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