Political Science and Politics


Hierarchical Citizenship in a World of Unequal Nation-States

Stephen  Castles  a1
a1 University of Oxford

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Citizenship in modern democratic states has a dual character. First, it denotes inclusion in a self-governing political community. Second, it means belonging to a specific national community, defined both by territorial boundaries and cultural practices. The democratic state appears in the guise of the nation-state, whose citizen is also a national. Political citizenship is universalistic and inclusive, while national belonging is culturally specific and exclusive. Everybody in the country is meant to belong, while the rest of the world is excluded: foreigners cannot belong. This dualism helps explain some contractions such as: why the age of democratic nationalism was a period of devastating wars based on the total mobilization of populations of warrior-citizens; how democratic states could justify the colonization of the rest of the world; and why democracy and racism are so often linked (Castles and Davidson 2000).