Working Paper

What Does "The Migrant" Tell Us About the (Good) Citizen?

Published 1 January 2012 / By COMPAS Communications

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The 'Migrant' speaks both to citizenship and to the 'Good Citizen', to citizenship as a legal relation between an individual and a state, and as 'substantive citizenship', that is, the rich content of citizenship. It reveals how citizenship signifies closure and exclusion at the same time as it claims universalism and inclusion, and thereby calls into question the claims of citizenship as signifying equality and resistance to subordination. This paper explores these tensions and what they tell us about the nature of citizenship as a formal status, and about the nation as an imagined 'community of value', that is, status in the sense of value, worth and honour. It also examines naturalisation processes as attempts to match formal citizenship with the community of value. It argues for an analytical lens that enables us to consider the exclusion of non-citizens (migrants and refugees) alongside the exclusion of failed citizens (such as (ex)-prisoners and welfare dependents).


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