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Citizenship is a barrier to socio-political inclusion

Citizenship is a barrier to socio-political inclusion

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Johnny (Kun Yip) Luk. Originally submitted for Political Geography at Durham University, with lecturer Louise Amoor in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Johnny (Kun Yip) Luk. Originally submitted for Political Geography at Durham University, with lecturer Louise Amoor in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/01/2014

 
“Citizenship is a barrier to socio
-
political inclusion.”
1
Abstract
Citizenship has been commonly associated with unity and inclusion. However upon closer inspection, this essay reveals that citizenship can actually facilitate a barrier to both thesocial and political spheres. These barriers form under the context of globalization whichblurs the meaning of citizenship at the community, nation state and world level. Thiscreates socio-political barriers due to the conflicting definitions of citizenship and also theimbalance of power. The conferment and access to citizenship supports an artificial socio-political barrier and numerous examples show how nation states often manipulate theaccess to citizenship for their own political agenda, exemplified by the South Ossetiaconflict and the
neurotic citizenship concept
. Citizenship on its own also encourages
assimilation
and the inevitable displacement of those who do not fit the perfect mouldmay result in the creation of an
other 
. However it would be wrong to merely suggest thatcitizenship is the source of all barriers in society, because that would decouple theimportant relationship of the economy in socio-political exclusion. Instead it is suggestedthat the barriers of political and social access is also heavy influenced by ones economicstanding. This essay offers the solution of limiting citizenship as an obstacle by recastingthe scale of inclusion from a local or state level to the global citizenship level. In thiscontext, there is no
other 
as we are all part of the same global arena. Global citizenshiplimits the power of states and allows individuals to be defined by their behavior andlifestyle choices, rather than through state categories. With increased globalization andmodern technology, this concept is closer and more real than ever before. Yet the sameconstraints that limit the influence of citizenship at nation state level, namely the access towealth, still applies. Because of this, ultimately citizenship alone can neither be the driver of inclusion or exclusion if not placed under the context of both the economic circumstanceand the politics that allow for access to wealth and hence power.332 Words
 
“Citizenship is a barrier to socio
-
political inclusion.”
2
Essay
The key question that arises from this statement is in many ways ironic, for citizenship atthe nation state level is often seen as a driver of solidarity and unity. It infers a strongsense of belonging and identity, creating a community for individuals with shared values.This essay will challenge this notion and explore the potential sources that facilitatecitizenship as a driver of exclusion. This matters in political geography because in thecontext of increasing globalization, different sources of conflict regarding identity emergefrom layers of citizenship at a community, nation state and world level. This essay willdiscuss how citizenship is not homologous and that the role of the state in legitimizingexclusion through assimilation increases socio-political exclusion. This imbalance of 
power in assigned affiliation suggests there must always be an ‘other’ and thus inevitable
exclusion and this may be nullified if citizenship is discussed at the global stage.Increasingly however socio-economic inequalities also influence socio-political inclusion atall scales.In order to answer this question, it is crucial to establish a clear definition of citizenship.Citizenship has often been redefined by significant events like the American War of Independence and the French Revolution (Isin and Turner, 2007) and is commonlyassociated with a bundle of rights given to an individual as part of a specified community(Leary, 1999). Similarly this community is often derived from an affiliation with a state.Citizenship and equality are intertwined via the rule of common law, with political andsocial rights derived from the welfare state resulting in the polar opposite of a class system(Marshall, 1964). Hence citizenship has been described as an instrument of inclusion.Citizenship is granted as a way to have equal political standing, whether in practice byvoting in a democratic nation or symbolically via solidarity. This provides an important
differentiator to the term ‘subject’, which
suggests subordination.On closer inspection barriers for socio-political inclusion however become apparentbecause nation state citizenship is not homogenous. One example is the variousconferment of citizenship, either by naturalisation or given by the right of birth and family.While legally there is little differentiation, the wording of 
naturalization 
is suggestive; anindividual has to conform to a set of expectations that is obscure in definition and henceimpossible to fully reach. In practice this is highlighted in the US Constitution, where only
‘naturally born citizen
s
may become the President of the United States (Tonchen, 2012).
 
“Citizenship is a barrier to socio
-
political inclusion.”
3
This could be inferred as a form of a two class citizenship where a US born citizen hasgreater rights than a naturalized citizen. Indeed the high court recognizes that one has toalso be born to a US citizen to become President, hence the recent uproar regarding
President Obama’s eligibility
(Tonchen, 2012). Aside from the irony that the founders of modern USA were at least at one level all immigrants, it demonstrates the most physicalbarrier of political inclusion, where one class of citizen cannot constitutionally reach thehighest office. This is further complicated when an individual neither fits in the full citizen
or ‘alien’ categories (Gilroy, 2006)
described as a
‘denizen’,
such as green card holdersand international students. This contrast alienates particular groups, whether in educationor in political rights.Citizenship itself may be
a form of ‘assimilation’ of the host state
values (Nagel, 2002), aserious barrier for social inclusion and actively legitimizes discrimination. Nagel (2002)reasoned that while assimilation is not new, it has expanded since the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, especially in the US. The concept of assimilation includes increasingexposure of migrants to the host culture via active participation in the social and economicrealm with the hope of eventual suspension of their own specific cultural affiliations,becoming a closer match with the nation state majority (Patterson, 1977). The concept o
‘one state, one culture and one language’ is succinct and simple (Coakley, 1992)
,exemplified by the French Government banning the burka in 2011 (Chrisafis, 2011). Yetthis homology naturally stokes resistance, whether because cultures are actively playingup their differences as a business necessity, for example in ethnic restaurants or portrayedstereotypically in media. Factors associated with ethnic loyalty, religion and psychologicalfeelings of security via aggregation in ethnic minority communities may also limit theeffectiveness of this form of assimilation. This intentional and unintentional resistancefrom targeted groups leads to inevitable social exclusion as a citizen. This is not limited tonaturalized nation state citizens, but those who were born within their state and of anethnic minority background. It is no secret that certain backgrounds in America are raciallytargeted as suspected terrorists, with racial law enforcement infringement against American Muslims increasing by almost 50% between 2003 and 2005 (Ghazali, 2008).Citizenship and the barriers of becoming a citizen are a form of state power. The inclusionof power distribution negates the possibility of full political inclusion (Heywood, 1994). Aclosed immigration system limits the possibility for naturalized forms of citizenship, oftentightened under facets like
‘security’ as a consequence of the war on terrorism,
leading to

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