In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Citizenship

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews and Readers
  • Historical Origins and Trajectories
  • National Closure
  • Inclusions and Exclusions of Social Justice
  • Gendered Citizenship
  • Immigration Challenge
  • Diversity Challenge
  • Beyond National
  • Rights and Human Rights

Sociology Citizenship
Yasemin Nuhoḡlu Soysal, Simona Szakács-Behling
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 November 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 November 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0008


Long a purview of legal and normative political theories, citizenship has made its way in noticeable strides into the discipline of sociology since the 1990s. It has become a focal point in the analysis of a variety of sociological questions, as well as in broader public and policy debates. The conceptual framework of citizenship in the work of T. H. Marshall (see Marshall 1950, cited under Historical Origins and Trajectories), whether endorsed or critically appraised, constitutes the starting point for much of the scholarship on citizenship. Inspired by Marshall, the scholarship shifted away from a purely legal understanding of citizenship to include concerns about social and economic inclusion, and later to questions of belonging and participation. Predominant conceptions of citizenship denote (a) membership in a polity (the nation-state), (b) a set of rights and duties that this membership carries with it, and (c) exercise of rights and obligations, and participation in the polity by members. National citizenship, the rights and duties it entails, and the identity it professes have come under significant duress as a result of the global hegemony of political and economic liberalism, particularly since the collapse of the polarized world system. Much of the work in the sociology of citizenship has developed in response to these global challenges. While a significant number of studies occupy themselves with the changing individual and collective relationship in the welfare state and in the broader context of human rights, others focus on questions of belonging and participation in a world where nation-state boundaries can no longer be taken for granted. More recently, attention has also been given to the growing global inequalities and populist reactions. These efforts produced a solid body of scholarship that addresses some of the key questions in sociology while engaging a multidisciplinary field, as reflected in the readings included here.

General Overviews and Readers

Earlier work in this general category attempts to establish the sociological contours of the study of citizenship, often by putting classic pieces side by side with newer ways of thinking and emerging areas of research. Turner and Hamilton 1994 is an example. The collection of papers in van Steenbergen 1994 makes connection to longstanding sociological themes in relation to citizenship. A popular reader, Shafir 1998, sets out the main analytical themes and debates in what is currently practiced as the sociology of citizenship. Isin and Turner 2002 provides a comprehensive view of the wide range of topics addressed by citizenship scholarship. Kymlicka and Norman 1994 is an indispensable source for sociologists who wish to familiarize themselves with the terrain of political normative theories that shape much of the debate in the field. Isin, et al. 2008 and Kivisto and Faist 2007 update the field by incorporating concerns regarding the erosion of citizenship rights and practices. Bloemraad, et al. 2008 and Joppke 2010 focus on the nexus of immigration and citizenship, insightfully synthesizing a large number of studies on the subject. Shachar, et al. 2017 brings together a multidisciplinary, comparative discussion of the main challenges and prospects of citizenship for equality and inclusion vis-à-vis increased migration and globalization.

  • Bloemraad, Irene, Anna Korteweg, and Gökçe Yurdakul. 2008. Citizenship and immigration: Multiculturalism, assimilation, and challenges to the nation-state. Annual Review of Sociology 34:153–179.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134608

    Comprehensive review of the theoretical, empirical, and methodological developments in the study of the dynamics between citizenship and immigration. The attention to both North American and European literatures and methodological and analytical challenges to the study of immigration and citizenship distinguishes this review article from others.

  • Isin, Engin F., Peter Nyers, and Bryan S. Turner, eds. 2008. Citizenship between past and future. London: Routledge.

    A collection of contributions from some of the leading scholars of the field, exploring the multifaceted character of contemporary citizenship. Key issues addressed are cosmopolitan norms, identity, territoriality, inclusion, multiculturalism, immigration, and European citizenship. Previously published as an anniversary issue of the journal Citizenship Studies 11.1 (2007).

  • Isin, Engin Fahri, and Bryan S. Turner, eds. 2002. Handbook of citizenship studies. London: SAGE.

    Compared to Turner and Hamilton 1994, this handbook surveys newer topics addressed in citizenship studies. Contains original contributions by prominent sociologists, political scientists, and legal scholars. Topics include the foundations of rights-based citizenship (political, economic, social), political theory approaches (liberal, republican, communitarian), and newer forms of citizenship (sexual, multicultural, indigenous, ecological, postnational, cosmopolitan).

  • Joppke, Christian. 2010. Citizenship and immigration. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.

    A sophisticated synthesis of the scholarship on citizenship, set in the context of significant social developments such as immigration and universal human rights. Covers a great number of theoretical arguments and empirical findings in a most cogent way. This is the best starting point on the topic for anyone.

  • Kivisto, Peter, and Thomas Faist. 2007. Citizenship: Discourse, theory, and transnational prospects. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    A thematically organized survey of citizenship along four themes that the authors see underlining the debates and research in the existing scholarship: historical patterns and contemporary modes of inclusion into the rights and community of citizenship; neoliberal erosion of citizenship rights; withdrawal from civic life and participation in the public sphere; and expansion of citizenship as exemplified by increasing modalities of multiple citizenships.

  • Kymlicka, Will, and Wayne Norman. 1994. Return of the citizen: A survey of recent work on citizenship theory. Ethics 104.2: 352–381.

    DOI: 10.1086/293605

    An illuminating review article exploring the revived interest in citizenship studies at the beginning of the 1990s from a political theory perspective. Authors build on distinctions between thick and thin as well as active and passive conceptions of citizenship to engage liberal and communitarian theories and argue for a revision of the notion to account for the increased pluralism of modern societies.

  • Shachar, Ayelet, Rainer Bauboeck, Irene Bloemraad, and Maarten Vink, eds. 2017. The Oxford handbook of citizenship. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    A recent authoritative collection by both emerging and established scholars written for a broad audience. Touches on key topics defining citizenship debates (e.g., liberal, republican, feminist, queer, economic, postcolonial concepts) and taps into growing areas of interest (e.g., indigenous, performative, secular versus. religious, non-Western citizenships) as well as less charted territories in today’s global context (e.g., citizenship and technological change, new governance techniques, precarious citizenships).

  • Shafir, Gershon, ed. 1998. The citizenship debates: A reader. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

    An excellent reader (with an analytical introduction by the editor), bringing together pieces by influential scholars in the field to introduce key citizenship topics and debates. The volume is organized around crucial dimensions of citizenship to convey the evolving theory and forms of citizenship in response to major social and political changes.

  • Turner, Bryan S., and Peter Hamilton, eds. 1994. Citizenship: Critical concepts. 2 vols. London: Routledge.

    An early, exhaustive reader gathering major texts and sources, from Locke up to the end of the 20th century. Categorized according to topic, each section is introduced with critical commentary by the editors. Sections include theoretical debates, classical texts, historical origins, and connections with welfare, ethnicity, and the state, as well as the feminist critique, inequality, and human rights challenge to citizenship.

  • van Steenbergen, Bart, ed. 1994. The condition of citizenship. London: SAGE.

    One of the early collections shaping the emergent field of citizenship studies, the volume brings together original writings by prominent political scientists, philosophers, and sociologists (e.g., Ralf Dahrendorf, Jürgen Habermas, Bryan S. Turner) on problems of social inequality, poverty, justice, civil society, ecology, global citizenship, postmodernity, and the city.

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