What Does Citizenship Mean in an Increasingly Globalized World? #essaycontest2017 Iro Gkrimpizi - Undergraduate Student, Bard College

As Brubaker rightly says “Citizenship is a universal and distinctive feature of the modern political landscape.” Every state formally defines its “imagined community” by publicly identifying the attributes of its citizens and in consequence the attributes that constitute its non-citizens or aliens. Importantly, according to each state, citizens have certain rights and obligations which constitute their legal equality. However, globalization has increasingly altered the position and institutional features of the state. Globalization forces have destabilized the role of the state and more specifically that of the nation-state. I support that the model of post-national citizenship is effectively responding to the challenges of globalization. The model insists on the importance of the nation-state and its sovereignty while at the same time it advocates for a form of membership that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state. As Soysal argues, rights and obligations are no longer defined based on nationality but on universal personhood.

            According to Brubaker, citizenship is internally inclusive and at the same time externally exclusive. The state is both a territorial as well as a membership organization constituted by its citizens. “The state claims to be the state of, and for, a particular, bounded citizenry”. Thus, it is accredited for serving the will and interest of its citizens. Importantly, this bounded citizenry is conceived as a nation; thus, we can call this form of citizenship: national citizenship. Significantly, citizenship is both an instrument and an object to domestic and territorial closure. Closure is a fundamental aspect of national sovereignty. Citizens are the only individuals that have an unqualified right to enter the territory of the state. They can also enjoy activities limited only to citizens. Finally, naturalization –the process of becoming a citizen– is in itself limited to those that qualify. Brubaker argues that domestic closure is beneficial for security concerns, fiscal obligations to citizens, and occupational group interests in restricting competition.

            More specifically, Walzer attributes the feature of the distribution of social goods to citizenship.  According to him, states are responsible for the provision of certain social goods thus they have a right to exclude. Territory is a social good in two ways. First, it provides for its residents: shelter, food, water, mineral resources and potential wealth.  While, at the same time it is a source of shelter with security and borders – self-determination. Importantly, for Walzer immigration will always be a part of life because there will always be places that are more desirable than others. Thus, countries have the right to admit the amount of people that will allow them to provide everything needed in their territory– their citizens. Walzer’s argument is exemplified in today’s globalized world, where people are moving around the world at an increasing rate. In such a world, states should always be able to exclude to be able to provide for their citizens.

            Walzer develops his argument by saying that all people once being in the same territory should have the same rights. Differential status of people in the same territory –like guest workers – can only create greater inequality. People in the same territory should be citizens that share the community’s social goods. Walzer’s argument stems from the fact that a state has responsibilities for its members.

 “The process of self-determination through which a democratic state shapes its internal life, must be open, and equally open to all those men and women who live within its territory, work in the local economy, and are subject to local law”.

Thus, the state cannot allow for a differential status among its members. Once people are allowed in the territory, the state should grant its members equal rights. The status of citizenship allows for the public identification of people who are granted equal rights by the state. However, Young moves even further to argue that equality in the national citizenship model does not comes hand in hand with citizenship. Less advantaged groups have increasingly been underrepresented in the political sphere. Implicitly, national citizenship claims for homogeneity repressing groups different from the model citizen. Thus, Young supports a democratic public that provides effective mechanisms for the successful representation of minority groups.

            In today’s world, globalization is shifting the meaning of citizenship as we know it according to T. H. Marshall. The foundation of the welfare state is brought into question with globalization arguing for “the ascendance of the market as the preferred mechanism for addressing these social issues.” Globalization is pushing states to be competitive and consequently to cut back on their welfare state provisions. This dynamic creates a reciprocal effect on people’s connection to the state. As people feel less supported by their state they feel less connected to it.  However, markets are unable to solve political or social problems. “As Peter Saunders rightly argues citizenship, inscribed in the institutions of the welfare state is a buffer against the vagaries of the market and the inequalities of the class system.” Thus, being a citizen of the state holds individuals accountable to their obligations to the state and its fellow citizens not allowing them to act solely based on their self-interests.

            The model of post-national citizenship comes as a response to the destabilization of national citizenship. Citizenship moves away from nationhood to personhood. Rights are expanded beyond those reinforced by national attribute and are now extended to include individuals that were previously excluded. Importantly, the model of post-national citizenship still stresses the significance of the welfare state. Post-national citizenship is a postwar phenomenon facilitated by the increasing flow of goods and people especially the labor migration that occurred after World War II. The model moves away from fixed to fluid boundaries. However, this does not mean that the state has fluid boundaries. The nation still has the right to exclude. Importantly though, its right to exclude must be based on a firm explanation as humanitarian arguments for migration play greater importance. All nations are held accountable to the same human rights.

            This model does not allow for persistent inequality. It argues for the constant expansion of rights. In the model of national citizenship inequality is considered a “natural” characteristic of social order. However, this is unjustifiable within the universalistic personhood framework. In the post-national framework national rights are replaced by universal human rights. “The rights and claims of individuals are legitimated by ideologies grounded in a transnational community, through international codes, conventions, and laws on human rights, independent of their citizenship in a nation-state.” The nation is still the grantor of such rights but their legitimacy lies in transnational order. Transnational organization and nation-states are now connected and interdependent. The model of post-national citizenship is exemplified in the European Union. There, we can see that the status of citizenship no longer plays the greatest role in the entitlement to rights. Legal resident aliens are being protected by supra- and sub- national legislations and are thus incorporated into civil and social rights regimes. Thus, distinctions between citizens and noncitizens are challenged. Residency in a state is given great importance. Post-national citizenship allows for the residence upon and eventual membership within a specific territory answering to the limitations identified by both Walzer and Young.

            In today’s world, states are found in contradiction between their commitment to universal human rights and sovereign self-determination. Post-national citizenship, as exemplified in the European Union, comes as a reconfiguration of human rights and sovereignty where rights are no longer dependent upon citizenship but rather are dependent upon residency. Based on the Marshallian framework, European citizens are enjoying political rights and, as the Union is transforming, Union members are debating whether to extend the rights of European citizens to social rights and benefits. Quoting Benhabib, “The European Union reproduces at the supranational level the internal tensions which have accompanied the birth of modern nation-states, while also showing their evolution along a different path.” Importantly, by projecting these tensions at a larger scale, post-national citizenship makes them all too apparent.

            As already stated, globalization is increasingly undermining the role of the nation state and it is consequently dismantling state sovereignty. Multiplying cites of citizenship at the sub-national level aims at tackling this problem by embracing international law but also keeping the state as the enforcement mechanism. The transformation of citizenship beyond the limitations of the nation-state is necessitated by the developments happening in the world. Importantly, the state still plays a crucial role in navigating the self-interest promoted by globalization and strengthening the democratic citizen. Thus, the model of post-national citizenship transcends the limitations of the nation-state keeping it tied to its ever-greater obligations.

            Concluding, it is crucial to stress that people are an important part in this transformation. “Democratic people … -must be active agents devising- … rules of membership at the national, subnational, regional, and municipal levels.” In order to sustain a welfare society in an increasingly globalized world, people must move away from their private interests and through active participation. They must be active in the process of reforming institutions and reaching decisions that are socially and collectively desired. This will lead to the effectiveness of the post-national citizenship model. 

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