Defending Citizenship, Reasserting Sovereignty

  • Steven Loyal
  • Stephen Quilley


There is an inherent dualism and ambiguity at the centre of modern citizenship that can be traced back to its origins in the French Revolution (Castles and Davidson 2000; Joppke 2008). The revolution gave birth to the modern democratic nation-state, in theory representing the will and interests of the people. Citizenship provided an expanding stratum of the population with equal legal and political rights, which were subsequently, over many years, extended to social rights (Marshall 1950). The linking of rights and civic responsibilities, on the one hand, to membership of a political community, on the other, was a profoundly radical idea that challenged principles of hierarchical privilege that structured traditional societies. The expansionary and universalist aspect of citizenship and statehood derived from what Karl Mannheim referred to as a ‘natural law thought-style’ (Mannheim 1986). But in so far as citizenship requires selection and a discriminatory concept of membership, this radical equalitarian impulse was simultaneously married to a conservative exclusionary principle. Membership units defined at scales below humanity as such necessarily engender unavoidable limits to a universalist, Kantian conception of rights. ‘Citizen’ rights are by definition not ‘human’ rights. As we argued above (see Figs.  2.1,  2.2, and  2.3; Chap.  2), the disembedding of individuals from the place-bound, subsistence livelihoods and feudal hierarchies also engenders new forms of dependence on the abstract functioning of the market and state. In this way citizenship embodies a peculiar and contradictory mix of both inclusionary universalism and exclusionary particularism, egalitarianism and hierarchy, sameness and difference, and natural law and conservative thought-styles.


  1. Allen, K. (2009). Ireland’s Economic Crash. Dublin: Liffey Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Revised and extended ed.). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  4. Brubaker, R. (1992). Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Castles, S., & Davidson, A. (2000). Citizenship and Migration. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  6. Collins, R. (1979). The Credential Society. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, R. (1999). ‘Balkanization or Americanization’: A Geo-Political of Ethnic Change. In Macrohistory: Essays in Sociology of the Long-Run (pp. 70–109). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Elias, N. (1991). The Society of Individuals. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Elias, N. (2012 [1978]). What Is Sociology? Collected Works of Norbert Elias (Vol. 5). Dublin: UCD Press.Google Scholar
  10. Garner, S. (2007). Ireland and Immigration: Explaining the Absence of the Far-Right in Ireland. Patterns of Prejudice, 41(2), 109–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilroy, P. (1995). Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Gramsci, A. (1973). Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  13. Janoski, L., & Glennie, E. (1995). The Integration of Immigrants in Advanced Industrialized Nations. In M. Martiniello (Ed.), Migration, Citizenship and Ethno-National Identities in the European Union (pp. 11–39). Aldershot: Avebury Press.Google Scholar
  14. Joppke, C. (1995). Towards a New Sociology of the State: On Roger Brubakers’s Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. European Journal of Sociology, 36(1), 168–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Joppke, C. (2003). Citizenship Between De- and Re-Ethnicization. European Journal of Sociology, 44(3), 429–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Joppke, C. (2008). Immigration and the Identity of Citizenship: The Paradox of Universalism. Citizenship Studies, 12(6), 533–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lenihan, B. (2004, May 28). Citizenship Change Common Sense. Irish Times.Google Scholar
  18. Luibhead, E., & Lentin, R. (2004). Introduction, in Special Issue of Women’s Studies. Women’s Studies International Forum, 27, 293–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mannheim, K. (1986). Conservatism: A Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Marshall, T. H. (1950). Citizenship and Social Class. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Miles, R. (1993). Racism After ‘Race Relations’. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Parkin, F. (1979). Marxism and Social Class: A Bourgeois Critique. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Scott, J. (1998). Seeing Like the State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Schuck, P., & Smith, R. (1985). Citizenship Without Consent. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Standing, G. (2011). The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  26. Wimmer, A. (1997). Explaining Xenophobia and Racism: A Critical Review of Current Research Approaches. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 20(1), 17–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zolberg, A. (2007). A Nation by Design. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Loyal
    • 1
  • Stephen Quilley
    • 2
  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations