Political Citizenship: Foundations of Rights

Thomas Janoski & Brian Gran. Handbook of Citizenship Studies. Editor: Engin F Isin & Bryan S Turner. Sage Publications. 2002.

Citizenship is grounded in the guarantee of legal and political protections from raw coercive power, whether that power comes in the form of the sword blade or gun barrel of soldiers, the fists of an abusing spouse or parent, or an employer’s shout of ‘you’re fired’ that leads to a loss of work, income, status and possibly nourishment. These protections involve ‘the many’ obtaining control of the legitimate means of violence, the state, in order to enforce protections or rights against élites who wield public and private power. Equally important, citizenship involves protecting ‘the few’ who have little power (e.g. minorities of race, class, gender, and religious affiliations) who need shelter from the tyranny of the ‘the many’ and/or élites. These rights and protections also involve obligations or duties to interact within and promote the commonweal and political system in as much as they are needed. At a foundational level, all citizenship rights are legal and political because citizenship rights are legislated by governmental decision-making bodies, promulgated by executive orders, or enacted and later enforced by legal decisions. And what these legal and political bodies primarily make is ‘law’. Thus, legal and political rights undergird many other citizenship rights.

Citizenship may be defined as passive and active membership of individuals in a nation-state with universalistic rights and obligations at a specified level of equality (Janoski 1998: 8-11, Bottomore 1993). There are four main points of this definition. First, citizenship begins with determining membership in a nation-state, which means establishing ‘personhood’ or who out of the totality of denizens, natives, and subjects of a territory are recognized as being citizens with specific rights. Personhood began with a restricted group of élite citizens (e.g. the élites of Athens or the aristocrats of England) and then developed to encompass more people (e.g. 80-90% of residents in advanced industrialized countries). Non-citizens within a state (e.g. stigmatized ethnic, racial, gender, class, or disabled groups) have slowly gained rights and achieved membership. External membership concerns how aliens obtain entry and then become accepted or naturalized as citizens.

Second, citizenship involves active capacities to influence politics and passive rights of existence under a legal system (Janoski, 1998; Thompson, 1970). With passive rights alone, a beneficent dictator could rule with limited legal rights and extensive social rights in a redistributive system. Active rights bring citizens in a democracy to the foreground in politics and even the economy. When citizens become active in citizenship rights, social scientists will be concerned with measuring the levels, causes, and consequences of their participation.

Third, citizenship rights are universalistic rights enacted into law and implemented for all citizens, and not informal, unenacted or special rights. Private organizations or groups can advance claims or proposals for citizenship rights, but claims often derive from norms within subcultures and are enforced by social pressures or group rules, and they often conflict with norms in other subcultures. The process of enacting citizenship rights is an attempt to make these rights as complementary as possible.

Fourth, citizenship is a statement of equality, with rights and obligations being balanced within certain limits. The equality is not complete, but it most often entails an increase in subordinate rights vis-à-vis social élites. This equality is mainly procedural—the ability to enter the public courts, legislatures and bureaucracies—but it may also include guaranteed payments and services that have a direct impact upon substantive equality. The extent of rights actually used by citizens may also vary considerably with class and status group power (Turner 1990; Somers 1993: 602-6).

Citizenship rights and obligations exist at the individual, organizational or societal levels. At the societal level, they refer to the development of citizenship rights and obligations in countries, and the focus is on the existence, breadth, and extent of rights and obligations. At the organizational level, they concern the rights and obligations of groups to form and act in public arenas. At the micro-level, the individual definition of citizenship focuses on how each person sees the relationship of rights and obligations within a framework of balance or exchange. It traces the development of the self in relation to various political groups and the state as a critical part of citizenship, especially the development of social movement or community oriented attitudes and behaviors.

Citizenship rights exist to the extent that a claim is advanced by a particular group, and they are confirmed when the state enacts and enforces the rights to some degree. Innate or natural rights may exist as informal legal norms, rather than enacted rights (Martin, 1982). As such, they do not enter the realm of citizenship rights until they are at least politically asserted as a universal right in the public domain.

As defined, this chapter delineates the legal and political foundations of citizenship, and then examines the distinctive nature of legal and political rights, and some of the debates surrounding them. We proceed in four steps. In the first section, we analyze the scope, meanings, and theories involved in the foundations of citizenship rights, ending with the debate about univer salistic and group rights. Secondly, we examine the nature and range of political and legal rights at the national level in over thirty countries according to various regime types, and then look inside countries at the variation of rights at the regional and local levels of government. In the third part of the chapter, we focus on the emergence and transformation of rights based on the personhood of new groups in social movements, and the creation and formation of rights over decades and centuries at the level of countries and nation-states. And finally, we probe the political identity of citizens including the Marshallian ‘social action’ and more recent ‘identity’ approaches.

The Foundations of Political and Legal Rights

In this section, we examine (1) the range of citizenship rights—legal, political, social and participation rights, (2) the theoretical variety of rights using Hohfeld’s categories of rights, (3) four basic approaches to citizenship — liberal, consensual, participatory, and radical-pluralist theories, and (4) individually-based ‘universalistic’ and group-based ‘particularistic’ approaches to rights.

Table 2.1 The Theoretical Range of Citizenship Rights

Legal Rights Political Rights Social Rights Participation Rights
Personal Security Illegal disappearances Torture protection Capital punishment Abortion Invasion of privacy Personal Political Vote Stand for office Freedom of information Right to protest Enabling Rights Health care Old-age pensions Rehabilitation Family counselling Labour market rights: Labour market information Job placement Job creation Discrimination protection Job security
Justice-Access and Process Legal representation Free legal aid Waive legal fees Confront witnesses Jury trial Right to contract Organizational Form political party Form trade/economic unions Social movement/opposition Group right to assemble and protest Cultural/minority rights Opportunity Rights Pre-primary education Primary and secondary education Higher education Educational counselling Advisory/ Determinative rights Works councils/grievances Collective bargaining Co-determination (human resources decisions) Ethnic/Indigenous Councils
Conscience and Choice Free speech Free press Freedom of religion Martial choice Occupational choice Gender/ethnic choice Membership Rights Immigration and denizen rights Naturalization rights Asylum rights Cultural rights Re-distributive and Compensatory Rights War injury benefits Work injury benefits Low income rights Unemployment compensation Rights violation compensation Capital Control Rights Wage earner funds Central bank controls Regional investment decisions Anti-trust and capital escape laws Co-determination (strategy decisions)

The Range of Citizenship Rights

In a comprehensive approach to citizenship, four rights can be identified (see Table 2.1). Legal or civil rights are mainly procedural rights (Rawls, 1982; Raz, 1984; Blackburn, 1993). In this sense, legal (and political) rights that create law are foundational and underlie other citizenship rights. Social rights of public assistance and medical care are not legal rights, but legal rights to access the court system may be necessary in protecting these social rights. Legal rights include personal security rights that protect citizens against illegal imprisonment, torture and death. They are also protections against invasions of privacy and aids for controlling one’s body such as abortion rights. Legal rights include important procedural and access rights of legal representation: the ability to confront witnesses, the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers, and the waiver of legal fees when citizens cannot pay for court costs. In a less procedural vein, legal rights also include rights to freedom of conscience (e.g. rights to free speech at the personal level, freedom of the press, free expression of religion) and choice (e.g. unencumbered selection of one’s occupation or profession, free choice of ethnic or multiracial identities, and freedoms of sexual expression including marriage).

Political rights refer to participation in the public arena and are also largely procedural because the process of enacting legislation is not synonymous with the substance of any particular right. Legislation may also deal with many laws that have no direct effect on citizenship. Political rights include citizens’ rights to vote and participate in the political process. They also involve the procedures for electing political representatives, creating new laws, and running for and holding political office. Political rights for organizations may include legal ways of raising campaign funds, consulting with legislators on proposals, nominating political candidates, and lobbying for particular policies. Finally, political rights include oppositional rights, minority protections, protest and demonstration rights, free access to government information (e.g. Freedom of Information Act in the USA), and the ability to conduct political inquiries.

Social rights and participation rights are not the direct subject of this chapter, but to complete our foundational purposes, we briefly include them. Social rights support citizens’ claims to social status and economic subsistence. Social rights are largely individual and consist of four parts. Enabling rights consist of health care, old age pensions, rehabilitation and family or individual counseling. Opportunity rights consist of the various forms of education from pre-primary programs to postgraduate university education. Redistributive and compensatory rights involve payments for rights deprivations and they can include war injury benefits, work injury benefits, programs for the disadvantaged, unemployment compensation, and other programs involving rights violations (e.g. payments to interned Japanese-Americans and enslaved German Jews during World War II). Through participation rights, states create rights in civil society and private arenas, whether in market, public organizations, or more private venues. They refer to the individual and group rights to participate in private decision-making through some measure of control over markets, organizations, and capital. Labor market intervention rights involve public participation in job placement, retraining, and job creation programs. Organizational participation rights can range from individual rights to participate in decisions at work in codetermination and works councils, to community rights to participate in health care and environmental impact decisions (Nagel, 1997).

Each right is often pursued in specific institutional forums: legal or civil rights are mainly exercised in the courts; political rights are used in voting booths, legislatures and street protests; social rights are often activated or disputed in government buildings; and participation rights take place in corporate works councils or participatory commissions. In sum, the essence of political democracy resides in civil and political rights, and the heart of economic democracy exists in social and participation rights.

Clarifying Citizenship Rights as Rights

Because citizenship rights are multidimensional, clarification of their diverse status is necessary. By using Hohfeld’s (1978) theory of rights involving liberties, claims, powers and immunities, we can unravel much of this complexity. One exercises a liberty without obliging others to help. A claim imposes a corresponding duty on others to help respect and protect the right. Thus, a claim requires cooperation and is bounded, whereas liberties are relatively open. Powers are cooperative controls that may be imposed on others. Powers are the opposite of immunities that allow escape from controls and deliver us back to a particularistic version of personal liberties. Hohfeld’s typology of rights meshes with Marshall’s division of citizenship rights (see Table 2.2).

Civil or legal rights as liberties are open-ended. A citizen has the liberty to choose a religion and express any opinion, but liberties also require tolerance of each other’s choices and state-implemented protections of those choices. Political and participation rights are powers that represent cooperative rights where persons and groups must work together to activate these rights. Social rights are claims that directly depend on taxes paid by others to fund unemployment and public assistance benefits. Immunities are compensation for rights violations that occurred in the past and at least partially make up for past injustices or uneven burdens. As a result, they are particularistic. For instance, citizens who were drafted into the military during wartime are given preference over other citizens in being hired or re-employed. This is an immunity from labor laws and personnel rules that require equal treatment. Because immunities violate the universalistic requirement of citizenship rights, they can only be considered citizenship rights when they are used to achieve larger universalistic goals. Similar arguments can be applied to affirmative action policies.

Table 2.2 The Relationship of Citizenship Rights to Hohfeld’s Categories of Rights

Hohfelds’s Categories Citizenship Rights
Liberties: Unilateral protections or actions; refer to individual’s ability to act as they please as long as others are not hurt. Legal rights: Freedoms of religion, speech, due process, and general rights to use the legal system to protect other rights.
Claims: The right to goods or services that require correlative duties from others. Unlike liberties, claims require the positive and supportive action of other persons. Social rights: Education, medical services, and cash payment for welfare and social security. Social rights depend upon claims that others pay taxes for services and payments.
Powers: The right to control cooperatively other persons or properties. Political rights: By voting, citizens cooperatively control the agenda for political action in the future. By holding office, citizens control other citizens in a direct way. Participation rights: By participating in workers’ councils, members of organizations help set the course and policy for their firms.
Immunities: The right to escape powers or claims. Legal rights: As an exception to universalistic principles because of past deprivations of rights, legal rights can also refer to compensation for aggrieved groups.

Thus, Hohfeld’s classification shows that citizenship rights are varied and not the unilateral liberties that some critics see as foundational (Giddens, 1982, 1987, 1989; Held, 1989; Mishra, 1981; Nozick, 1974; Dworkin, 1977).

Theories of Citizenship Rights

With considerable generalization, we present four major theories of citizenship rights. To reconstruct any of these theories is a task far beyond the goals of this chapter, so we outline in Table 2.3 the basic themes of each approach (Gunsteren, 1978, 1994, 1998; Heater, 1999; Isin and Wood, 1999).

Of the four theories, liberalism is by far the dominant theory in philosophy and political theory in the Anglo-Saxon democracies, but less so in social science literatures and in other advanced industrialized countries (Locke, 1967; Kymlicka, 1990; Waldron, 1984, 1993). Liberalism puts strong emphasis on the individual, and most rights are based on liberties that adhere to each and every person (i.e. negative rights or freedoms from state or social interference). There are several theories of liberalism, but our main concern here is the position of rights and obligations in this theory. Although there are a few basic obligations to obey the laws (generally to pay taxes, refrain from assault and rebellion, and to serve in the nation’s armed forces), liberalism places the clear weight of its ethical and moral theory behind individual and negative rights. Legal and political rights come first, especially civil liberties and property rights, and are balanced by only a few obligations.

Thus, individual rights are primary and represent massive residual areas of wide-ranging freedoms of action. Obligations, except for obeying laws, are not emphasized, and social and participation rights are often difficult to incorporate in liberal theory mainly because they require more extensive obligations to work well. The relationship between rights and obligations is contractual or one of immediate reciprocity; that is, for each right there generally is an equal obligation (Waldron, 1984, 1993; Putnam, 1993: 87; Kymlicka, 1990; Tyler, 1990).

Table 2.3 Four Basic Theories of Citizenship

Individual and Consensus Groups Rights and Obligations Political Institutions Ideational Impetus
1 Liberal Theory: John Locke, Adam Smith, T.H. Marshall, early R. Dahl, J. Rawls

  • a. Traditional liberalism,
  • b. Modern liberalism/pluralism
Citizens are self-interested, but this is good. Consensus is not likely but also not ruled out. The individual is supreme and their voluntary participation in pluralistic groups is representative of them. Universalistic individual rights have precedence over obligations and the state. Group rights do not exist for ascriptive categories. Groups have rights secondary to individuals. Political parties aggregate categorical interests expressed by interest groups. Most action takes place in representative legislatures. Citizens follow self-interests and rules in the pursuit of happiness while being tolerant.
Consensual Order: Aristotle, J.J. Rousseau, A. Etzioni, W. Galston, A. Oldfield, P. Pettit

  • a. Communitarianism
  • b. Civic Republicanism
Citizens can be molded into good or virtuous citizens. Consensus is highly desirable and the main goal. The “general society as a whole and in its constitutive groups are more important than self-interest. Obligations representing the “general are more important than individual rights. But obligations help enforce and buttress universalistic rights. The state as a moral entity has the duty to enforce the obligations of the populace. To some degree, civil society also enforces obligations. Citizens obey duties and work together in order to share in the good society.
Participatory Republicanism: J. Habermas, J. Bohman, H. van Gunsteren, Benjamin Barber, M. Warren

  • a. Neo-republicanism
  • b. Expansive democracy
The human nature of citizenship is complex, but this is not a barrier to participation. Consensus gives way to participation and procedure. Individuals are under-represented. Their participation in groups should be encouraged following certain communicative procedures. Groups must respect individual rights. The state and civil society formally create deliberative institutions like deliberative polling, town meetings, works, councils, codetermination, citizen-police councils, etc. Universalistic rights and obligations are in a complex balance. One must be careful of enforcing state obligations, but some obligations are necessary. One must similarly be careful about groups. Citizens participate in a tolerant and fair way in community councils and forums in order to establish a just society.
Moderate Post-modern Pluralism E. Laclau, C. Mouffe, E. Isin, J. Torfing, W. Kymlicka

  • a. Radical pluralism
  • b. Multiculturalism
The identities of citizens are complex. This fundamentally rules out substantive consensus. Large-scale societal groups are a bad fit to the interests of most post-modern individuals, who tend to find their expression in social movements. Cultural and ascriptive groups have cultural and procedural rights. Universal rights do not exist or exist to a limited degree. Group rights particular to cultural and ascriptive groups are important. Social movements and the media are the motive force for institutional change. Both involve elites of various groups presenting particularistic rights while ignoring obligations. Citizens pursue group identities through group or cultural rights, or resist and attain such rights in social movements.

While social and group rights tend to violate liberal principles based on the individual, liberal theory often engages pluralistic theory by which individual positions on political issues are aggregated so they can be represented in democratic legislatures. John Rawls in Political Liberalism (1993) formally marries liberal and plural approaches. However, interest group liberalism does not involve group rights, but simply aggregates the rights of similar individuals in a procedural democracy. As a result, pluralist principles generally parallel liberal theory.

The second group of theories focus on consensual order, and include communitarianism and civic republicanism. Communitarianism generally opposes liberalism by putting strong emphasis on community goals. The primary concern of many communitarian theories is the effective and just functioning of society. The good society is built through mutual support and group action, not atomistic choice and individual liberty. Obligations to society may often predominate over rights because their goal is to build a strong community based on common identity, mutuality, participation, integration and some autonomy (Selznick, 1992: 362-3). In their view, liberalism is far too rights-centered (Selznick, 1992: 376-80), but while communitarianism seeks to re-establish the importance of obligations, it still tried to guarantee rights. Rights and obligations are related in a less immediate way than in liberal theory, and citizens may be expected to fulfill obligations without expecting immediate returns. Thus, there is a clear emphasis on obligations in communitarianism (Etzioni, 1991, 1993; Galston, 1991; MacIntyre, 1981, 1983; Putnam, 1993: 87; Sandel, 1982, 1984, 1996; Sullivan, 1982; Walzer, 1983, 1989, 1990).

With a long history dating back to Aristotle, Machiavelli and Rousseau (Oldfield, 1990; Heater, 1999), civic republicanism is sometimes difficult to separate from a motivational ethic in liberalism, but in many ways it is similar to communitarianism in that it emphasizes citizen obligations. However, this emphasis comes through the concept of civic virtue rather than state obligations. Pettit separates himself from liberalism by emphasizing non-domination from the liberal’s noninterferences (2000: 10). Yet he also separates his views from communitarianism, which relies too much on the state (120-21). The emphasis of civic republicanism is clearly on civil society and how to foster the virtues of good citizens who act on behalf of others.

The third group, theories of participatory democracy, consists of expansive democratic and neo-republican theories. Expansive democracy theory emphasizes the rights and increased participation of the lower classes, women, and other excluded groups more than previous theories do. It often takes an intermediate position between liberalism and communitarianism (Singer, 1993: xiii). This position can be built on Mark Warren’s notion of expansive democracy in emphasizing both rights and obligations. Its emphasis is on balancing group and individual rights and obligations in both cooperative and competitive relationships. The result is a self-identity that fuses individual interests through participation in community activities, whether they are work, neighborhood, or welfare-related needs, but at the same time it protects individual civil rights. Some might refer to this as social democratic theory but this ‘political party’ rubric is a bit too large and unwieldy to delineate the theory presented here.

Although both communitarian and expansionary democracy theories are conceived to combat alienation and aid self-transformation, expansive democracy theory emphasizes rights to empowerment and participation (Habermas, 1989; Warren, 1992; Janoski, 1998). Deliberation in democratic processes rather than merely following democratic procedures is important. Again, balancing the influence of the state with that of groups in civil society is critical to maintaining participatory communication through many different venues from town meetings to works councils. Deliberative polls as proposed and implemented by Fishkin (1993) are important additions to the élite dominated process of public opinion formation. Work on deliberation has become highly complex (Habermas, 1996; Bohman, 1996; Fishkin, 1994), yet the principle is still simple—allow citizens to participate and communicate freely in the making of their political decisions.

Neo-republicanism describes a position taken out of civic republicanism. It emphasizes three points: that citizens (1) act publicly with other citizens in civil society (i.e. not as individuals), (2) enact an office with formal rights and duties, and (3) organize a plurality (not a majority) to guide their community of fate (van Gunsteren, 1998: 24-30). However, duty requires a certain amount of competence and operates through deliberation, debate, and tolerance. It consists of a strong and deep democracy that no longer emphasizes nationalism but rather acknowledges deep differences and loyalties between citizens (Gunsteren, 1998: 26; Barber, 1984).

In the fourth group, moderate postmodern theories of citizenship are the newest and most controversial addition to citizenship theories. While some postmodern theories claim that citizenship is dead (Wexler, 1990), others accept citizenship and politics, but modify them toward group or particularistic rights (Isin and Wood, 1999). Of these theories, we focus on two: the radical pluralist theories of citizenship and explicit theories of multicultural citizenship. Radical pluralism rejects both liberal pluralism and consensual communitarianism (LaClau and Mouffe, 1985). It envisages a constant conflict of what Mouffe refers to as ‘agonistic pluralism’ where antagonism is turned into consensus on basic democratic procedures and values while a certain amount of dissent is allowed over interpretation and implementation of these positions (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Mouffe, 1993a, 1993b, 1993c, 1995, 1996; Torfing, 1999: 255). Mouffe separates her position from ‘deliberative democracy’ that ‘aims to establish a consensus through free and unconstrained public discussion’ (Torfing, 1999: 261). She postulates an agonistic democracy that envisages ‘confrontation between adversaries who agree on the… rules of the game while disagreeing not only about substantial, political and moral issues but also about the precise interpretation of the rules of the game’ (Mouffe, 1995: 502; Torfing, 1999: 261). The citizen is active and protesting. Within this multicultural and non-essentialistic theory, a modified socialist project emerges as a goal for one competing group of progressive citizens. This progressive group includes many different people, some closer to socialism but also others closer to postmodern fragmentation. Nonetheless, their major contention is that a cultural turn has taken place and that various race/ethnic/ gender and other groups have a claim to some type of group or cultural rights. This is the topic of the next section.

Universalistic versus Particularistic Rights

Liberal theory has largely been hostile to the idea of group rights because liberalism is thoroughly based on the individual. Theories influenced by the ‘cultural turn’ and postmodern influences find group or particularistic rights quite amenable to their purposes. While liberal and multicultural positions on group rights may claim fundamental differences, a closer look suggests a great deal of overlap in theory and practice. Much of what is referred to as women’s ‘group rights’ falls under contingent (e.g. abortion rights), compensatory (e.g. affirmative action rights), and organizational rights (e.g. the National Organization of Women fighting for positive media coverage and legislative action). In some ways, whether contingent, compensatory or organizational rights are associated with multicultural or liberal theory probably is a moot point; they are related to both theoretical perspectives. If we look beyond these three types of rights that are shared by each theory, a small amount of conflict between universalistic and groups rights is left. We will discuss these three different forms of rights below and then answer the question we have just posed.

First, universalistic rights nominally apply to everyone who is a citizen and who fits the situation for which the rights were intended. In other words, universalistic rights can be contingent without losing their universality. For instance, in some countries, all citizens have a right to public assistance, but that right is contingent on being poor and without resources (i.e. billionaires do not have a right to receive public assistance payments). Similarly, healthy citizens in their thirties who work for good wages do not qualify for old age pensions (i.e. one must be old to receive a retirement pension). The contingencies of these rights are based on clear and sensible conditions. Moving on to gender issues, the right to any kind of medical procedure or treatment including the right to an abortion is contingent on having a medical condition that requires such treatment (i.e. being pregnant). These rights are universal in that they fall under general welfare and medical care rights that are activated when citizens need them and fit the criteria for which they are intended. Saying that only men have a right to prostate operations because only they have prostates or only women have rights to abortions because only they can give birth does not erase the fact that these rights in many countries may be universal but simultaneously contingent.

Second, some citizens have suffered rights deprivations in the past, and as a result, they are entitled to some form of special treatment. Affirmative action programs in the USA have provided special rights for veterans, women, African-Americans, Hispanics and others (Burstein, 1998; Pencak, 1984; Skocpol, 1992; Ross, 1969). Considering Hohfeld’s theory, these compensatory rights are temporary ‘immunities’ to equal treatment requirements of law because equal treatment for these groups has been violated in the past. If affirmative action programs and procedures become permanent rather than temporary, they are no longer compensatory rights but categorical rights, which are discussed below. Compensatory rights may also involve cash payments (e.g. the federal government in the USA paid Japanese Americans interned during World War II, and there were German payments to Jewish emigrants and victims whose property was stolen).

Third, universalistic citizenship rights also encompass organizational rights, which at the political level include the rights to form political parties and interest groups; trade unions and employer federations; and ethnic, racial or gendered associations and social movements. These are not particularistic group rights as the term is typically used. Rather, they are organizational rights whereby groups of people have rights to collectively organize and act. For example, trade unions have rights to recruit members, negotiate grievances, bargain over wages with management, and conduct strikes with protests and picketing. These active rights are specific to groups of workers who have formed trade unions, and if workers choose not to have a union, they do not have these rights. This does not make them particularistic or group rights. These rights are also contingent on having formed the organization in question. Similar organizational contingencies apply to interest groups formed by women, gays, and citizens of color. These rights are universalistic given the fact that all citizens may follow the legal procedures to establish their own organizations or voluntary associations.

Two common mistakes often occur with political and organizational rights. One concerns labeling all political gains or policies as rights, even though they are neither guaranteed nor universal. For instance, with organizational rights, trade unions and women’s groups bargain for certain life-sustaining wages and limitation on hours. However, these bargained solutions exist for a union or interest group at one particular time and are not citizenship rights. Similarly, many different types of legislation are not citizenship rights: providing a building and budget for a new social program, designating Children’s Protection Week, and giving special tax shelters or oil depletion allowances. These are not citizenship rights guaranteed by the state. It is important to recognize that all political action by legislatures and courts does not create citizenship rights. The other mistake was discussed above, but it is worth reiterating that rights of action or benefit within an organization are not citizenship rights (e.g. ‘an employee of my stature has a right to a desk or a company pension’). These may be recognized within organizations as rights, but they are not citizenship rights available to all citizens.

Finally, categorical rights (i.e. often referred to as cultural or group rights) involve an exclusive entitlement to a particular activity or status, which others could use but cannot receive. In other words, these are not contingent, compensatory, or organizational rights. They form the core of what many theorists refer to as group or cultural rights, but we will call them ‘categorical rights.’ These kinds of rights can exist to different degrees and are laid out in Table 2.4.

In ‘part a’ of the section on indigenous and aboriginal rights, we list a rather wide range of rights that may not be available to the general citizenry. Self-government and sovereignty give categorical rights their own flavor. But in ‘part b’ of this same section, the rights do not consist of a separate system but rather particular exceptions to universalistic rights: for example, American Indians’ rights to catch salmon with gill nets or to establish casinos on reservations in the USA which are denied to most other American citizens, or the existence of separate legal systems in Canada that allow alternative punishments to prison (e.g. sweat houses or banishment) (Havemann, 1999, Isin and Wood, 1999). A more formal example concerns categorical rights that are allowed by the Spanish constitution and further negotiated between political parties and grants autonomy to the many language-based regions of the country (e.g. Basque provinces collect their own taxes and then pass on some monies to the central government) (Colomer, 1999; Rothschild, 1981; Newton, 1997).

Unlike the theoretical agreement on the three types of group rights discussed above, further positions on categorical rights in liberal and postmodern pluralist theory differ: liberal theory is strongly against categorical rights and multicultural or postmodern theory favors them. We discuss the pros and cons of each theory below concerning issues of universality, discrimination, representation, and domination. First, the use of group rights involves a specific targeting of benefits to various groups, but this entails an obvious loss of universality. Kymlicka’s (1995, Gray, 1989) multicultural position is extremely critical of states viewing citizens as de-culturized and non-ethnic persons. He states that: ‘The common rights of citizenship, originally defined by and for white, able-bodied, Christian men, cannot accommodate the special needs of these groups. Instead, a fully integrative citizenship must take these differences into account.’ (1995: 181). Kymlicka mentions that ‘there is ample evidence that these social rights have indeed served to promote the integration of the working class in various countries…’ (1995: 180). On the other hand, there also is ample evidence that universalistic laws have served social movements representing women and African-Americans quite well. More to the point, Kymlicka does not see the need to include African-Americans under the category of group rights (2000: 233). According to him, American law has served them well enough to pursue their rights claims through the courts (Smith, 1997; Shklar, 1991; Morris, 1984). Our main point is that universalistic rights provide a powerful tool to social movements in achieving their claims and that these tools may be exchanged for the more uncertain tools of group rights, which may have less legitimacy to non-group members. Thus, there are gains and losses for each approach: group rights attain greater specificity and targeting to culturally sensitive groups, while universal rights enable greater legitimacy and discursive leverage in legislatures and the courts to these same groups.

Table 2.4 Group Rights as Categorical Rights in a Number of Countries

Legal Rights Political Rights Social Rights
1 Indigenous or Aboriginal rights
  • a. National sovereignty rights Indigenous law supplants universalistic law
  • b. Particularistic rights Fishing monopolies, public schooling exemptions, gambling on reservations Legal, schooling and public signage rights in native language Special land and water rights Ethnic dress exemptions Festival and holiday rights with subsidies (These rights would be universalistic if offered to all ethnic groups)
  • a. National sovereignty rights Self-government by tribe or nation on or off reservations, semi-autonomous substate.
  • b. Particularistic rights Special status or vetoes in legislature Guaranteed number of seats in legislature Gerrymandering districts to create minority ‘majorities’ Ethnic advisory councils in general and for especially for police (Election ballots translated into ethnic language)
  • a. National sovereignty rights Independent expenditures, taxes and budget for welfare, cultural and medical programs.
  • b. Particularistic rights Special welfare benefits Business start-up programs Preferential government business Language rights in schools Cultural awareness programs only for groups Multicultural rights in schools like special holidays for indigenous persons only
2 Ethnic and immigrant rights Rights of return to originating country (Civil rights for immigrants) (Translation rights in police actions) (Naturalization and dual nationality rights) Immigrant advisory councils (Election ballots translated into immigrant or ethnic citizen’s primary language) Special welfare benefits Business start-up programs Language rights in schools Multicultural rights in school like special ethnic holidays for group members only
3 Women’s rights (Abortion as bodily control rights) (Abuse rights for wives and children) (Child support rights) (Affirmative action rights) [None, but special seats reserved for women are possible.] (Multigender rights in curriculum) (Special welfare benefits) (Women’s protection centers) (Women’s studies programs)
4 Gendered rights (Civil rights at work) (Benefits for gay partners at work) (Gay marriage rights) [None, but special seats reserved for gays are possible.] (Multigender rights in schooling) (Adoption rights) (AIDS treatment rights) (Social security rights for gay partners)
5 Regional rural and urban rights Internal travel privileges for urban citizens/restrictions on rural people to urban areas, or vice versa External passport privileges for certain groups Regional self-government Rural development or assistance programs
Sources: Partially based on Levy 1997, Isin and Wood 1999, Kymlicka (1995: 29-35), UN (1993)
Parentheses indicate right considered to be contingent or compensatory citizenship rights. Brackets indicate rights that do not exist but could exist.

Second, particular groups may pursue and obtain categorical rights, but these rights are inherently particularistic and may become discriminatory. When achieved by specific minority groups who want full expression of their culture through rituals and social structures, these rights become discriminatory toward other citizens living in the same area who become strangers without the same cultural rights. The complete achievement of group rights for ethnic and other groups might lead to a decentralized system of ‘feudal’ societies each with particularistic rights and different legal orders, which Dahrendorf refers to as ‘sectoral citizenship’ (1974: 693). Rights to free movement (geographical mobility) and employment (occupational mobility) would become strained because a system of group rights encourages separatism into substates and subsocieties.

Categorical or group rights may work better than individual rights for ethnic or racial groups who are primarily of one group; however, they may also abandon citizens with complex ethnic heritage. Multiracial or multiethnic citizens with less than a tenth of any particular group are left without categorical rights. Are they not ‘different’ and are not all citizens entitled to be racially, ethnically, and sexually recognized? Further, some ethnic groups may not feel as strong a sense of culture and may indeed see themselves as relatively non-ethnic even though everyone has an ethnic heritage (Howard, 1992: 97-9; Dan-Cohen, 1986; Nickel, 1997; Wal, 1990).

Ethnic groups may argue that the nation-state already advocates a dominant ethnic culture, which is often true. The very name ‘nation-state’ implies this. However, much of this is not formalized into a system of rights in law, and what has been formalized is in the process of being removed (e.g. in the USA the transfer of social security benefits to spouses has been largely completed, and ‘In God we Trust’ on coins can easily be replaced by multicultural symbols). Feminist groups make the argument that citizenship is gendered and this is also true. Citizenship rights reflect the societies in which they are created. However, many current ‘gendered rights’ are clearly preferable to past ‘gendered rights,’ and considerable change has occurred in this area. Where group rights have the strongest case concerns indigenous peoples whose ‘racialized rights’ cannot be easily accommodated by simply extending the availability of rights. Indigenous cultures based on collective or unowned property are clearly distinct from most Western and many non-Western cultures.

Third, categorical rights require representation but often these representatives are not elected or otherwise legitimated. This issue does not reflect representation per se, but rather the tendency of dominant political élites to appoint ethnic or racial élites to represent ‘their’ people. As a result, these appointed leaders, who may be charismatic to dominant élites and legitimate to mainstream politicians, may sponsor positions that their constituents or group members do not want. In fact, the very lack of group support for cultural policies or positions may serve as evidence for the necessity of categorical rights (i.e. their group has underdeveloped or false consciousness). Categorical rights concerning citizenship need some assurances that democratic processes operate within these groups (e.g. the Landrum-Griffin Act assuring democracy within trade unions in the USA).

Representation may also affect tolerance within groups. If a group culture devalues women, the old, the young, or some other segment of their society (e.g. the American South with lynching, present-day USA with the death penalty, some African Muslim societies with clitoridectomy, the Amish with shunning, etc.), should a democratic society accept that devaluation as being legitimate because of its embeddedness in that culture? Kymlicka (1995: 172) recognizes the problem but concludes that ‘dismissing the idea of self-government’ will not make it go away, but we note that neither will accepting self-government. Vyver (1996: xli-lxii) discusses the doctrine of ‘sphere sovereignty’ that allows religious groups sovereignty over such actions, but the cultural relativism implied here is often difficult to accept. In actuality, USA and Canadian courts have allowed many exceptions with religious sects such as the Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites and Doukhobors (Janzen, 1990; Durham, 1996; Vyver, 1996). Kymlicka sees external protections of ethnic and racial groups as valid, but internal restrictions on group members as invalid. This leads to some difficult distinctions on controlling the internal affairs of groups to which he would like to give self-governing rights (e.g. accepting most of French culture but being less tolerant of certain aspects of Muslim culture (Kymlicka, 1995: 42, 164-172; Mayer, 1999). This is not an easy issue for any of the theories considered here.

Fourth, the power of dominant groups may give them undue influence over group rights in a number of ways. For instance, having legal status and the many corresponding rights accorded to them, corporations can acquire large resources and considerable power. Individuals and communities cannot match this organizational power. Consequently, countervailing power resources labor organizing, codetermination, works councils, and environmental monitoring laws—are often necessary to balance the bargaining. But what are corporate rights? In essence, they are group rights for investors who have their private assets sheltered from liability claims, and this ‘limited liability’ has amassed considerable power and profit. Corporate rights also enable chief executive officers and other corporate officials to wield significant power in our society. Changing this form of group right, while not impossible and not without supporters, is unlikely. Once a group right becomes ensconced, it can be very difficult to dislodge.

While group rights have been intended for minority groups, majority groups and dominant élites can take advantage of group rights in other ways. Trade unions in the USA wanted to place their Committee on Political Education (COPE) on more solid legal footing by making it a political action committee (PAC) (Corrado et al., 1997). They were successful but corporations with deeper pockets were able to use PACs to overwhelm the contributions made by trade unions. Majorities or élites may also be able to use other group rights much more effectively than minorities. In the USA, powerful Christian churches are having success in putting forth a proposal about group rights to use ‘faith-based organizations’ (e.g. churches) to implement state social policies (Durham, 1996, Vyver, 1996). Can these organizations then discriminate against racial, gender, or religious groups? In the end, dominant religious groups may be much more successful than minority groups in attaining group rights despite the intent of social theorists.

Thus, there are some difficult trade-offs and thorny issues concerning these four issues of (1) the different strategic advantages of operating under a system of universal or categorical rights, the implications of (2) discrimination and (3) representation in categorical rights, and (4) the question of dominant élites co-opting categorical rights for their own benefit and domination of minority groups.

We have kept the right to self-determination separate because it involves the liberation of nations, the creation of additional states with sovereignty, and the institutionalization of new legal systems. Nonetheless, it is a very important aspect of categorical rights. In a claim to secede, we see two issues that present great difficulties but are not necessarily insurmountable (Bartkus, 1999; Buchanan, 1991; Buchheit, 1978; Cobban, 1969; Eagleton 1953; Wood, 1981).

First, an independence movement is a clear threat to the existing state and larger society advocating universal citizenship. It can result in brutal civil wars and make the state vulnerable to external threats because of destabilized international relations. According to Weber, the state has the legitimate right to use of force, which means that secession creates a dispute between two groups that claim coercion as a means to obtain their goals. While secession may be peaceful (e.g. the separation of the Slovak and Czech Republics, Norway and Sweden, and Scotland and Wales in the UK), more often it involves considerable violence. For instance, the Iraqi government killed over 5,000 Kurds and forced over 1,700,000 Kurds to seek asylum in Iran and Turkey (Bartkus, 1999: 65). Other recent examples involve Bengalis in Pakistan; Biafrans in Nigeria; Eritreans in Ethiopia; Nagas and Kashmiris in India; Karen in Burma; Katangans in the Congo; Chechens in Russia; Basques and Catalonians in Spain; Tamils in Sri Lanka; and Tibetans in China. The violence in these attempted secessions has been highly destructive and caused great loss of rights and life. On the other hand, the vast majority of violence has often been committed by states who oppose secession, and if these states were to forego their claims, less violence would result.

Second, the self-determination of a people assumes a fixed and somewhat pure ethnic or racial group that has closure over culture and other norms. This very group must not have subcultures or subgroups that may themselves seek independence. Claims for the presumably closed and homogenous groups are very difficult to make clearly in multicultural societies with substantial but variable rates of intermarriage (Packer, 1999; Little, 1996). More often than not, such closed societies do not exist, especially because of international migration and globalization, which are at odds with closure. Even worse, this strong need for ethnic or racial community has a tendency toward ethnic cleansing, which ranges from encouraging emigration to plain murder (e.g. the Christian cleansing of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the newly formed Hungarian state pushing an ethnic purification policy after it gained independence from the Austrians in the second half of the nineteenth century). Thus, ethnic repression against these smaller minorities within the new state may actually be greater than before secession.

Arguing against this point of ‘minority nationalism,’ Kymlicka uses the term ‘post-ethnic multiculturalism’ (2000: 229-32), which appears to mean a form of tolerance that can exist within nation-state and/or within semi-autonomous regions or groups within the nation-state (e.g. the wide-ranging acceptance of immigrants from all over the world in Quebec). While groups such as the Québécois may have a sense of group culture and the boundaries of that culture, that does not mean that they cannot at the same time be open to multiculturalism. How far many countries are past ‘minority nationalism’, however, is a telling question on whether this concept works or not.

There may very well be legitimate claims to secession, but the point we are making is that to exercise this controversial right may be more complicated and involved than nationalist groups think. Secession’s provocation of violence should clearly make one extremely careful in using it (as one would be careful calling for revolution). Many of these ethnic and racial problems can be solved through participatory structures (rather than complete sovereignty) that allow greater democratic control over local and regional resources. However, these processes do not always work (e.g. despite considerable autonomy, the Basque claims to secession are still backed by terrorism) (Gibbons, 1999: 13-38). Or they can be solved by independence in successful secession, but this process may be hard to control and ungovernability may be lurking for many years.

In sum, the nearly opposite theoretical positions of liberalism and multicultural theory have more in common than most recognize. Contingent, compensatory, and organizational rights supply an overlap between the two theories. For the most part, liberal theories fail to recognize the frequent existence and value of group rights in many democratic societies, and multicultural theories fail to perceive the usefulness of universalistic rights in advancing many ethnic, racial and gender groups.

The strongest cases for group rights are advanced by indigenous peoples since they often form fundamentally different countercultures with at least some geographical closure—American Indians, New Zealand Maori, Canadian Inuit, Nordic Sami, and Australian Aborigines (Havemann, 1999; Isin and Wood, 1999: 47-70). They can also claim some initial citizenship (i.e. jus soli as first citizens rather than terra nullis as non-inhabitants). Since special rights for cultural categories work best for groups who have clear cultural and geographical boundaries, indigenous populations can effectively make claims because they have these boundaries. Also their conceptions of property and social organization are often inherently collective, making their law quite different (as are the Amish and other religious sects who live collectively and have received exemptions). If a nation lives more or less separately, then rights and obligations can be relatively clear and cultures can be celebrated with state support. For categories of people who intend to live together with other peoples, contingent, compensatory, and organizational rights may very well be enough (e.g. women, gays, racial minorities, and various immigrant groups). But for the most part, special and univer salistic rights will continue to live together in an uneasy relationship, and we must avoid a politically naïve position that powerful groups will not use categorical rights to increase rather than lessen domination.

The Extent of Legal and Political Rights

The range and nature of legal and political rights differs considerably around the world and we now look at these differences in thirty countries.

Legal Rights

We group legal rights and duties into three categories: reasonable security of person, access to justice, and freedom of conscience. Rights to personal security include freedoms from government torture, the imposition of the death penalty, and freedom to control your own body through contraception. The right to personal security ‘consists in a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health, and his reputation’ (Kriegel, 1995: 40). It allows individuals to conduct their lives without interference from the state, other groups, and individuals. It obligates the state to protect the individual’s right to personal security. An example of the right to personal security is the right to be secure from marital rape. Although the right to be secure from marital rape may belong to the right to control one’s body, the notion here is the right to be personally secure and safe. Another example is a child’s right not to be subject to harm or abuse.

The right to control one’s body is the ability to decide how one takes care of one’s body and mind and one’s health. This right may be active compared to the right to personal security, but in the same way protects the individual from interference from the state, other groups, and individuals. This right also obligates the state to protect individuals’ right to control their body and mind. An important contemporary example is the freedom to choose or reject an abortion. Although abortion is sometimes based in the right to privacy, the decision to abort frequently involves the mother’s right to control her own body. The decision whether to receive medical and psychiatric treatment is also based on the right to control the body and mind.

In some countries, the right to privacy is the basis of the right to personal security and the right to control one’s body. We differentiate the right to privacy because in some countries it does not provide the legal foundation of these other rights and because it is apparently becoming important in other areas of life, most notably use of electronic devices and the Internet.

Like the rights to conscience and choice, the right to personal security necessitates the willingness to obey laws and tolerate other people’s choices. The effective use of the right to personal security also obligates individuals to report violations of those rights and to help others.

Second, rights that support or facilitate access to justice are rights that provide access to court and, once in court, support efforts to gain justice. Rights that support access to justice typically are legal rights and include the rights to legal representation, free legal assistance, waiver of court fees, confrontation with your accuser, and a jury trial. The right to legal representation means an individual has the right to have legal counsel in court, whether criminal or civil. This right is important when confronting the complexity of some kinds of legal proceedings and the difficulty of representing one’s own interests. States must ensure this right is fulfilled by providing legal representation without direct charge to the represented. Many governments fulfill this right for criminal cases, but not all states fulfill this right for civil cases. The right to free legal representation is similar to the right to legal representation, but it is typically available to indigents to ensure that they receive legal representation and advice in court.

The right to confront your accuser is based in the notion of procedural and substantive due process. A person has the right to confront the party who may affect their liberty and property. The notion of ‘due process of law’ implies the right of an individual to be present before the tribunal that pronounces judgment upon her or him. To enforce this right to the fullest means the individual has the opportunity to be heard, by testimony or otherwise, and to challenge every material fact that bears on the question. It allows one to be heard in court while prohibiting the state and others from damaging one’s liberty or property without notice.

Obligations supporting rights that provide access to justice include the obligation to testify, appear in court as a party to a lawsuit, and to serve on a jury. The duty of testifying in court obligates an individual to appear so that another citizen who is subject to legal action is not deprived of their rights. It gives substantive meaning to the right to confront and be judged by your peers. The right to a jury trial, of course, is meaningless if juries cannot be formed from a pool of responsible citizens, which means those citizens must be willing to serve.

Third, rights to conscience and choice allow individuals to maintain their values and beliefs in and live according to religious, philosophical, or even amoral principles. Rights to conscience and choice usually are legal rights and include the freedom of speech and the press, the freedom to practice religion, the right to choose a marriage partner, the right to choose an occupation, and other rights. The freedom of speech and the press is the ability to speak, write, and communicate whether speaking, advertising, telephoning or e-mailing. These rights are universalistic rights that allow individuals and groups to challenge and criticize the state, to comment on other individuals and groups, and to do so without interference from the state or others in civil society. The freedom to practice or not to practice religion and to maintain one’s conscience is the ability to believe in and live according to religious, philosophical or other principles. The freedom to marry allows an individual to choose a partner freely and without interference from the state. The rights to conscience and choice include other rights such as the right to choose a gender and the right to choose membership in an ethnic group.

Obligations supporting the rights to conscience and choice include tolerance and obeying the law. The obligation to tolerate the practice of others’ rights, opinions, and lifestyles is a universal obligation. An example is allowing others’ religious opinions and modes of worship that are contrary to, or different from, those of the established religion or dominant beliefs. Laws are frequently implemented to safeguard the rights to conscience and choice, and obeying these laws is important for allowing individuals to exercise these rights and freedoms. These various laws may often conflict (e.g. unconditional freedom of speech versus freedom from racial or sexual discrimination in banning hateful and public actions) so that ironing out conflicting rights may be quite complex (Rowan, 1999; Anderson, 1987).

Political Rights

This discussion of political rights focuses on four types of rights: personal political rights, organizational rights, membership rights, and group self-determination rights. First, personal political rights consist of voting in elections for a multiplicity of competing candidates chosen through a democratic political process. Assuring the legitimacy of elections has proven more difficult than previously assumed in the USA with the very close 2000 presidential elections. Countries differ according to how difficult it is to vote (e.g. registration procedures, secrecy of the ballots, disqualifications for past crimes, poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright discrimination) (Piven and Cloward, 1988). Voting methods may allow for serious undercounts by spoiled ballots or outright corruption (e.g. the confusing ‘butterfly ballot’ in the 2000 Florida presidential election). Standing for office is restricted to certified citizens and particular offices may have various ascriptive requirements. For instance, there are age and birth requirements for the USA presidency (candidates must be at least 35 years old and born in the country).

Second, organizational political rights refer to the rights of political parties, interest groups, and social movements to form and take action in legislative forums, the courts, and in the media. As with voting and legislating, these rights are not substantive but procedural. Political parties can freely form to participate in selecting candidates to run for office, and if they win, political parties may play a prominent role in the ruling of the country. Interest groups may form, collect money through contributions, give money to candidates in many countries, and influence politicians to enact their policy preferences. In the USA, corporations and trade unions cannot give candidates money directly, but there are ruses (soft money and separate organizational principles) that allow them to subvert these rules (Corrado et al., 1997). Social movements and trade unions may take part in specific oppositional activities such as protesting, demonstrating, and striking. These rights are considerably different between countries.

Third, countries differ according to their propensity to grant membership to citizens within and outside of their borders. Immigration quotas for certain sending countries were quite popular before the 1960s, especially concerning Asian immigrants (e.g. the USA and Australia had very small quotas for Chinese immigrants). More recently, immigrants have been controlled through occupational and family reunification procedures. Some countries deny being countries of immigration (e.g. Germany and Switzerland) and as a result restrict many immigrants to guest-worker status with the expectation that they will return to their home countries. By and large, only Switzerland has been successful in sending immigrants back. Other countries ban certain types of immigration within their country and emigration to other countries (e.g. the USSR and other communist governments).

Naturalization rights refer to the procedures that an immigrant must go through in order to become a citizen. In the most general cases, immigrants must be in the country for a specified period of time (three years in Australia to twelve in Switzerland), demonstrate knowledge of the language (rudimentary in the USA or more advanced in Germany), have good character (not having a traffic ticket in Japan or being a felon in the USA), and so on (Janoski and Glennie, 1995; Hammar, 1985; 1990; Soysal 1994). In two specific cases, naturalization may be short-term or even immediate. Spouses of citizens and adopted young children from other countries are afforded courtesy naturalization, and children born in the country are allowed to become a citizen in many Anglo-Saxon countries under jus soli principles.

Fourth, the right of a group of people to self-determination is not an individual right since one person cannot form a government. This is a group right afforded to regional, ethnic, or racial groups who claim that they are a nation and should stand independently with some form of sovereignty. Countries can emerge out of other larger countries or empires in one of two ways: decolonization and secession. Decolonization takes place when a country existed and then was taken over by a colonizing country. The usually distinct peoples of the colony develop nationalistic consciousness often through discrimination and illegitimacy claims, with social movements and political parties, and through force or sometimes non-violent resistance pressure the colonizer to grant them freedom and sovereignty. The major European colonizers have largely gone through the decolonization process and former colonies are now independent states (e.g. Algeria and Vietnam decolonized from France; Nigeria and India separated from the UK; and Indonesia and Surinam gained independence from the Netherlands).

Countries can also emerge out of non-colonial secession processes but this is more difficult (Bartkus, 1999: 10-12). To succeed, secession movements need discontent, leaders, a distinct community and a geographical base (e.g. secession from within occurred with Singapore from Malaysia and by invasion from a neighboring country with Texas from Mexico). Nations such as the Kurds have had a great deal of difficulty because their peoples span four countries (Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan), which makes the secession process difficult. Unsuccessful secession attempts are numerous, but the Southern states attempt during the USA Civil War is one example. Indigenous peoples often make secessionist claims for national status, but more often than not, these are more limited separations that may evolve into limited sovereignty (e.g. Nunavit in Canada) or consociationalism (e.g. the Flemish and Walloons in Belgium).

In Table 2.5, we examine some measures of political and legal rights in 31 countries. We summarize the level of legal and political rights for these countries across democracies, democratizing countries, and countries governed by dictatorships. Democracies are characterized by their political-economic orientation: social democratic, traditional and liberal.

Among the social democratic countries, all countries have Humana (1983, 1992) rights scores above 83. Based on group summary scores, the social democratic countries have the highest level of legal and political rights, which is also indicated on the Freedom House ranking (1999). Traditional countries have Humana rights scores ranging from 66 to 100, but Italy scores lowest among the traditional democracies with a summary score of 90. The liberal democracies range from 44 to 100, although Freedom House summary scores rank them in the 1 category. Japan receives the lowest Humana score among the liberal democracies at an average of 82. On the whole, these democracies score high on measures of legal and political rights, but across categories differences exist with social democracies scoring highest and liberal democracies tending to score lowest.

The democratizing countries score two to four on the Freedom House measure with the Humana scores for specific legal and political rights range from 33 to 92. Within this group, Poland and Argentina score highest while Nigeria, South Africa, and India score much lower. Governments characterized as dictatorships receive the lowest scores on legal and political rights. China, North Korea and Iraq earn Freedom House’s lowest score of six and seven, and on certain rights they sometimes drop to Humana’s lowest score of zero.

Levels of Government Organization and Citizenship

Citizenship varies most across different levels of government in federal systems but much less so in more centralized countries (Norton 1994). In the USA, states have their own constitutions and statements of rights. Federal law takes precedence on issues and claims over which it has jurisdiction, but otherwise, state law controls. On the whole, there are three levels of citizenship rights. First, national-level rights are found in constitutions and national legislation that maintain basic principles of legal and political rights, including due process rights and voting rights. Second, regional rights exist at the state, provincial, departmental, and Land level. These regions may have constitutions and bills of rights, but they generally are subject to the sovereignty of national rights. For instance, in Canada many strong rights are unique in Quebec, but in France much weaker rights are provided at the département level.

Table 2.5 Measures of Legal and Political Rights in 31 Countries

Legal Rights Political Rights
(1) Summary FH/Humana (2) Security person Torture/death/ contra (3) Access to Justice Detention/ lawyer (4) ConscienceRelig/speech/  gender (5) Summary FH (6) Personal Vote/info (7) OrganizationAssmb/opp/  union (8) Membership Emgr/natz/dual
Democracies Social Democratic
Denmark 1 98 100 YYY 83 Yy 97 YYY(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Finland 1 99 100 YYY 100 YY 100 YYY 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Netherlands 1 98 100 YYY 100 YY 97 YYY(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Sweden 1 98 100 YYY 83 Yy 100 YYY 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Austria 1 95 89 yYY 83 Yy 97 YYY(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYN
France 2 94 89 yYY 100 YY 97 YY(88) Y(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Germany 2 98 100 YYY 83 Yy 97 YYY(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 67 YYN
Italy 2 90 89 yYY 66 yy 97 YY(88) Y(92) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 67 YYN
Switzerland 2 96 100 YYY 100 Yy 90 YY(87) Y(83) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 67 YYN
Australia 1 91 87 yYY 83 Yy 90 YY(92) y(77) 1 100 YY 100 YYY 87 Yyy
Canada 1 94 87 yYY 83 Yy 100 YYY 1 100 YY 100 YYY 100 YYY
Ireland 1 94 87 Yyy 83 Yy 92 YYY(75) 1 83 Yy 100 YYY 87 YyY
UK 2 93 87 yYY 100 YY 97 YY(88) Y(92) 1 83 Yy 100 YYY 100 YYY
USA 1 90 66 ynY 83 Yy 90 YY(87) Y(83) 1 83 Yy 100 YYY 87 Yyy
Japan 2 82 44 yNy 50 yn 87 Yy(77) Y(83) 1 83 Yy 100 YYY 33 YNN
S. Korea 2 59 44 nNY 50 ny 73 Yn(44) Y(75) 2 50 ny 33 nnn 55 YyN
South Africa 2 50 44 nNY 33 nn 74 Yy(55) Y(66) 1 50 NY 44 nny 100 YYY
Poland 2 83 55 yny 83 Yy 92 YYy(75) 1 100 YY 87 Yyy 33 NYN
Argentina 3 84 78 nYY 83 Yy 81 Yy(78) Y(66) 3 100 YY 100 YYY 67 NYY
India 3 54 33 NNY 50 ny 53 yy(44) y(50) 2 83 yY 66 yyy 100 YYY
Brazil 4 69 44 NnY 83 yY 87 YY(87) Y(75) 3 83 Yy 87 Yyy 67 NYY
Mexico 4 64 44 NnY 33 Ny 81 Yy(77) y(66) 3 66 yy 66 yyy 67 NYY
Russia/USSR∗ 4 54∗ 33∗ nNY 50∗ ny 76∗ yy(66) y(83) 4 66∗ yy 66∗ yyy 55∗ nYn
Nigeria 4 49 55 yNY 33 Ny 79 yy(87)Y(83) 6 33 Ny 66 yyy 100 YYY
Algeria 5 66 44 nNY 83 yY 68 Yy(55) y(50) 6 50 ny 66 yyy 33 NYN
Pakistan 5 42 33 NNY 50 ny 31 ny(44)N(17) 4 66 yy 44 nyn 33 NNY
Egypt 6 59 44 nNY 17 Nn 39 nn(33)y(50) 6 50 yn 55 nyy 33 NYN
Iran 6 22 22 Nny 0 NN 18 nN(11)N(8) 6 17 Nn 0 NNN 33 NYN
China 6 21 66 NNY 17 Nn 43 yn(22)n(41) 7 0 NN 0 NNN 0 NNN
Iraq 7 17 22 Nny 33 NY 49 yn(22)y(58) 7 0 NN 0 NNN 33 NYN
N. Korea 7 20 66 NNY 17 Nn 30 nN(0)y(58) 7 0 NN 0 NNN 0 NNN

Sources: Freedom House/FH (1999); Humana (1992).

Variables: (1) Summary of legal rights comes from both Freedom House (ranked 1 = high in rights to 7 = low in rights) and Humana (100 = high in rights, 0 = low; averages taken of following scores: Y = 100, y = 66, n = 33, N = 0); (2) The security of person: freedom from torture, absence of the death penalty, and freedom to contracept (Humana); (3) Access to justice: freedom from unlawful detention and ability to be represented by a defense attorney (Humana); (4) Freedom of conscience: freedom of religion, freedom of speech (average of three variables—censorship of art, the press, and mail/phone—reported in parentheses), and freedom of gender choice (average of four variables—female equality, marriage, divorce, and privacy—reported in parentheses) (Humana); (5) Summary of political rights comes from Freedom House (Humana); (6) Personal political rights: voting and ability to hold office (Humana); (7) Organizational rights: assembly, opposition, and trade unions organization (Humana); (8) Membership rights are an index of emigration, naturalization, and dual nationality rights (Humana on first, and Janoski and Glennie on next two).

One example of the regional division of rights concerns the financing of political elections in the USA. Under federal election law, expenditures are limited for federal candidates, but states have entirely different laws for state and local elections (Corrado et al., 1997). Difficulties often arise when political parties merge campaign funds for election campaigns that are inherently mixed (e.g. state and federal candidates often share the same podium endorsing each other as a matter of course). Further, some states are lax and allow large campaign contributions to be made to state candidates and parties, while federal campaign contributions tend to be more restrictive and require extensive reporting. Although laws regulating campaign finance are in flux with reform movements, federal and regional rights are divided between these two levels of government on who can contribute and how much they can give.

A second example of divisions between components of the state concerns restrictions on the right to vote for inmates and former prisoners. In Losing the Vote, the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch (SPHRW) estimate that 3,900,000 Americans, 2% of all adults, have currently or permanently lost the ability to vote because of a felony conviction. Nearly all states prevent inmates from voting with only Maine and Vermont allowing them the franchise (SPHRW, 1998). After citizens serve their sentences, 32 states prohibit them from voting while on parole and 29 prohibit voting while on probation. Nine states categorically prohibit the right to vote to ex-convicts, while five states prohibit the right to vote for some ex-convicts. Thirteen percent of African-American men have lost the right to vote, which means that 36% of the disenfranchised population are black men (SPHRW, 1998). The ability of states in the USA to decide whether to restrict the right to vote for individuals convicted of a crime is an important example of states exerting considerable influence over and perhaps subverting rights found in the federal constitution.

Rights based at the local or municipal level tend to affect local or municipal concerns, such as rights to zoning property and eminent domain. Although some rights are enumerated in national constitutions, they are effectively provided at the local level. An example is the right to free legal representation. While the right to free legal representation is founded at the national level and applies to both criminal and civil cases, this right is more strongly protected by some states and local governments than others. In Sweden the right to free legal representation is found in the Swedish Constitution, but the responsibility to provide free legal representation is based at the county level.

At the international level, transnational or multinational rights exist in a number of areas. The European Union protects the right to move across national borders for workers and their families. International legal conventions exist for rights and obligations arising from war crimes. According to Article 1 of the Declaration on Territorial Asylum of December 1967, national governments are precluded from granting asylum to an individual who is reasonably suspected of committing a ‘crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity’. In the situation of detecting, capturing, and extraditing a person who may have committed a war crime or crime against humanity, national governments are expected to conform with the provisions of the ‘Charter of the United Nations’ and the ‘Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States.’ These documents require national governments to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms as defined by the UN. Other provisions exist in the World Court, the European Parliament, and in the court of public opinion (Meehan, 1993). Claims for rights are supported by organizations in international civil society (e.g. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Witness for Peace).

Emergence and Transformation of Citizenship

Two points about how citizenship rights and obligations are created and changed are important: personhood or the recognition of various groups and identities of citizens, and the long-term political, economic, and cultural battles that move citizenship rights to and fro over decades and centuries.

Personhood and the Right to be Recognized as a Citizen

Identity has always been an important aspect of citizenship that enables those excluded persons knocking at the door of citizenship to organize into social movements and interest groups so that they can participate as citizens with legal, political, and social rights. Turner emphasizes that citizenship rights are ‘the outcome of social movements that either aim to expand or defend the definition of social membership’ (1986a: 92). He finds that the long-term consequences of these social movements have been to push and universalize citizenship rights for an ever widening and diverse array of ‘persons’ (1986b). Yet at the same time, citizenship is an act of closure about a group of people it calls citizens and some people are left out (Murphy, 1988; Brubaker, 1992).

Building on Hoffman (1986: 83), there are at least four categories of excluded persons who may claim citizenship: stigmatized, impaired, potential, and quasi-humans. Stigmatized humans are the most common category of candidates for citizenship, whether class-denigrated poor, gender-disqualified women, status-degraded racial or ethnic groups, or gender-despised homosexual groups. Each group tends to be thought unable to perform the duties and accept the rights of citizenship because of short sighted or impaired interests that will not benefit the community (e.g. selling their votes, being swayed by their husbands or caretakers, or not having enough education or mental capacity to make a decision). Religious and gendered minorities are perhaps the exception to this rule because objections to their citizenship are often based on cultural or value dissensus. They are not stigmatized by incompetence but rather by opponents’ claims that foreign religions, domestic cults, or gay behavior will destroy the basic values of society and hence the survival of the dominant group (e.g. Muslims may destroy Christian culture or gays may threaten straight culture). But these groups may form social movements to promote their acceptance and access to rights and obligations.

Second, the group of impaired humans may come from established citizen groups, but their competence to fulfill rights and obligations is questioned because of physical or mental disabilities that preclude action and judgment, and establish dependence. Physically disabled groups have mounted a strong campaign for rights (Shapiro, 1993; Driedger, 1989) and with relatively small and usually material adjustments (e.g. wheelchair access or orally operated typing mechanisms) they can operate in society as full citizens. Mentally disabled groups have had more problems because self-advocacy has proved to be more difficult (Rothman, 1982). Nonetheless, the inclusion movement in schools, employment, and leisure has brought about changes in many American schools in order to integrate students who fall into this category. Employment is following close behind with the support of a number of important employers (Sailor et al., 1989).

Third, potential humans include the fetus in the womb, accident victims in a permanent coma, unconscious patients, or aged citizens who have lost all thought and activity processes other than involuntary life sustenance. The rights and status of the fetus have been and will likely be debated for some time. The fetus cannot effectively communicate, but the permanently impaired and non-communicative citizen is also in a difficult position. While many speak of the rights of these citizens, few speak of their obligations.

Finally, there exists a category of fictional-or quasi-humans, such as corporations, nations (ethnic groups, races, and even religions), and offices. Corporations have been accorded rights; however, these rights really represent groups of people (e.g. shareholders and to a lesser extent employees). These groups and the corporation are different in some ways, including separability, but corporate rights are a form of group rights. In fact, the connection of the group to the corporation for collecting profits through dividends, but separation of the corporation from the group for the purposes of limited liability, are the major advantage of corporate existence with rights (i.e. when the corporation loses money the stockholders cannot be sued for debts).

Group political and legal rights also exist (e.g. the French in Canada, the Flemish and Walloons in Belgium, the Danish in Northern Germany, and the Maori in New Zealand). These rights exist to protect the special status of these cultural and language groups. Although some group and organizational rights legitimately exist, many rights theorists accord them a status that is less forceful than individual rights whenever the two types of rights are in conflict because organizational rights derive are derivative from individual rights (Dan-Cohen, 1986: 102-13; Fleras, 1999; Pogge, 1997).

The Development of Legal and Political Citizenship

There is an immense amount of material written about the rise of democracy, which cannot possibly be reviewed here, and a massive literature on the rise or fall of authoritarianism (e.g. the literature on the causes of fascism). In this sketch, we will outline four main currents in this literature.

Using a focus of long-term development over centuries, Barrington Moore follows four paths of development: the capitalist/ parliamentary approach of France, the UK, and the USA, the capitalist/fascist reactionary approach of Germany and Japan, the communist revolutionary development of Russia and China, and the mixed pattern of India and other countries. Moore’s The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1965) lays out each of these paths based on social movements of labor struggling with capital, élite strategies involving war and conquest, and changes in the mode of production that allow peasants greater resources, mobility, and organizational capabilities (Turner, 1986a). Michael Mann emphasizes élite strategies of liberal, reformist, fascist, authoritarian monarchist and authoritarian socialist regimes (1988: 190). Charles Tilly and Brian Downing provide a greater focus on war and international development on citizenship. Tilly (1991) focuses on two paths. One is the coercion path with emphasis on the means of coercion (i.e. soldiers, technology and strategy) leading to the growth of states and much less in terms of citizen freedoms. The other is the capitalist path that focuses on the accumulation and concentration of capital leading to the growth of economies and cities, which then lead to toleration and liberal democracy. Downing (1992) makes similar Weberian arguments that medieval constitutionalism was embedded at an early point in many European cultures, and by implication, not part of Asian or African cultures. Mann (1986) probably provides the greatest integration to this approach with his IEMP (ideology, economy, military and state power) approach to state development.

Largely within these traditions, T.H. Marshall (1964) contends that citizenship rights tend to progress from legal to political, and then on to social rights. Countries that do not follow this order will have difficulties (e.g. Russia, Germany, Austria, etc.). While Marshall was heavily criticized for this theory, there does seem to be considerable evidence that when a country leaps over political rights to social or participation rights, there will be problems protecting legal and developing political rights (see Janoski, 1998: 199-216).

Second, there are a number of political economy approaches more or less connected to Marx but not unrelated to the theories discussed above. Many class-based theories have discussed the power of the middle classes and bourgeoisie over landed aristocrats and nobility, with the bourgeoisie triumphing in different ways in England, the USA, and France, and the landed Junker in Germany (Gerschenkron, 1966; Luebbert, 1991; Rokkan, 1970, 1974a, b). Seymour Martin Lipset (1977, 1981, 1994) furthers this ‘social requisites of democracy’ argument in stating that successful free market capitalism is necessary for a strong middle class that fosters democracy. Strong or at least sufficient political institutions are next (1994: 16-17). These can be interpreted in a radical or conservative way as a mode of production argument for the social bases of politics. For instance, Paige (1975) explains a wide variety of revolts based on five types of agricultural production and Stinchcombe (1983) generalizes these arguments even further. Wallerstein’s work (1974) on the core countries in the modern world system developing and requiring tolerance and the free flow of ideas is another angle on this perspective, with the peripheral and semi-peripheral countries lacking capital and state power’s interests in tolerance.

These class-based arguments tended to focus on the middle or bourgeois classes, but the next step is to look at the development of the working classes in extending democracy. Walter Korpi (1985, 1989) and Michael Shalev (1983) have developed this idea into what is called power resources theory, which explains much of citizenship policies that get passed in democracies by the power of labor parties and trade unions. Reuschemeyer, Stephens and Stephens (1992), Baldwin (1990) and Luebbert (1991) have extended this with working class and other coalitions. This approach, while tending toward working class issues, can be easily extended to the ‘power-resources’ of gender, race, and ethnic groups of many different kinds. Finally, Esping-Andersen (1990) has extended this class-based approach to one more sensitive to institutional or regime differences between countries (as used for the democracies in Table 2.5), and this provides a transition to the next theoretical approach.

Third, state-centric or polity-centered accounts of rights look at the state as an institution with complex features of its own. Skocpol’s States and Social Revolutions (1979) presented state-centralized strength and peasant revolts as a critical element in social revolutions that created new rights, some political (such as France) and others more social (such as the USSR). State mobilization for war and economic development can occur in many different ways, but into the twentieth century greater reliance has been placed on populations at home and abroad. The result is greater emphasis on education, schooling, and tolerance. This builds pressure for legal and political equality and citizenship rights. The state-centric approach to citizenship is especially useful in delineating differences between countries over long periods of time. Constitutions, legal traditions, political institutions, and political culture can play a strong role here (Skocpol, 1992; Amenta, 1993; Amenta and Carruthers, 1988).

Fourth, cultural values and identity have a strong impact on citizenship. There has been a strong tradition of referring to cultural differences in basic political values between countries (Almond and Verba, 1965, 1980; Dahl, 1986; Lipset, 1994: 3-4). When not referring to constants, cultural affinities to modernity were stressed. However, this approach has tended to refer to cultural constants rather than to a more dynamic analysis of citizenship discourse in particular cultures. Since the 1980s and postmodernity, cultural approaches have exploded within the social sciences with an intense interest in Foucault and other French theorists. Cultural explanations have a wide range of work: the rise of the ‘gaze’, surveillance, discipline, and punishment in Foucault (1979), the figural action, discursive fields, and social horizons in the rise of reformation, reason, and socialism in Wuthnow (1989), the cultural idioms of jus soli and jus sanguinis in Brubaker (1992), the civic identity theory to explaining citizenship rights of Smith (1997), and the five different paths to the transvaluation of values in Greenfeld (1992). Somers (1993, 1995a, 1995b) formulates much of this approach in terms of civil society and relational theory. Yet, while the implied Weberian rationalization or modernization theses have been severely questioned (e.g. Marsh, 2000; Weber, 1978), they are not yet replaced. For example, despite the democratization of Taiwan, citizenship is still awaiting development in China and the Islamic world. However, much of this analysis is taking place in new social movements and international civil society rather than in the legislation of citizenship rights (Nash, 2000), and other advances are taking place in terms of normative rather than explanatory work (Mouffe, 1992, 1993a, 1993b).

Political Identity and Citizenship

The process of gaining citizenship rights and assuming citizenship obligations and then losing them is gradual and curvilinear over the life course. Gaining rights and obligations generally takes place within a family and becomes more conscious during adolescence (Demo, 1992: 310-6; Jones and Wallace, 1992: 18-23, 146-51; Morgan, 1984). During adolescence teenagers learn many citizenship processes through civic education in the schools and participation in the neighborhood and community. Children and adolescents to some degree are provided with rights they have not earned and in a sense they are born with an obligational deficit.

Consequently, young citizens emerge out of this dependent position to engage in various types of exchange being already indebted with emotional and sometimes rational obligations toward family and community. The rational being, making calculations independent of all persons and institutions, is perhaps the furthest from the actual development of citizenship that one might imagine. And to a large degree, adolescents and young adults are doing their utmost to construct a viable self at this time that will take rights and obligations into account. They realize that they must develop some independence from parents and the state (as experienced in the school) before they can fulfill obligations. In the family, parents give to their children and those children end up giving to their offspring, and sometimes the children give back to their parents. Thus, much of one’s self-construction arises around exchanges with family, social networks, and community.

Independence and hence citizenship diminishes during old age (Demo, 1992: 317-38). Participation in work tends to cease with retirement, while political and other forms of participation, especially voluntarism, frequently increase for a number of years (Chambré, 1987). Nonetheless, when failing health and deteriorating mental condition occur, many older citizens often give up their freedom to guardianship under the care of relatives or nursing homes. When older citizens are hospitalized and unconscious, many serious decisions are made by doctors and immediate family with informed consent (Barber, 1983: 141-9). Family and medical personnel may even decide to avoid extraordinary measures to save the older citizen’s life. Thus, the extent of citizenship rights and obligations is directly connected to independence, and when a person is at the beginning and end of life, their condition of dependence lessens their full use of rights and exercise of obligations.

Table 2.6 The Citizen Identity by Action Position and Value Involvement

Action Position—Behavior Value Involvement—Belief
Allegiance Apathy/Self-interest Alienation
Active—Citizen Participant Passive—Citizen Subject Inactive– Aliens and Neglected  Citizens 1 Incorporated Citizen 4 Deferential Citizen 7a Fatalistic Loyalist 2a Opportunistic Citizen 2b Opportunistic Citizen 6a Marginal Citizen 6b Marginal Citizen 3 Active Citizen 5 Cynical Citizen 7b Fatalistic Opposition

Citizens form a self-concept in relation to the state with its rights and obligations, which they express to others (Portis, 1985: 461-72; Roche, 1992: 375-81). Modern theories describe the self as not only dynamic but also multifaceted. Markus and Wurf refer to the self as a confederation of ‘actual-, ideal-, ought-, and even counter-selves’ (Markus and Wurf, 1987: 301-3; Demo, 1992; Oosterwegel and Oppenheimer, 1993). This helps explain why attitudes are not always consistent and may not predict behavior. People reflexively interpret and reinterpret their reasons for engaging in citizenship behavior. Markus and Wurf indicate that ‘individuals often rewrite their personal histories to support a current self-view’ (1987: 316). After the self develops in childhood and adolescence, it becomes a complex coherent structure on its own and is not a simple reflective mechanism of significant others.

Social Action Approach toward Citizenship Identity

The construction of the citizen-self is largely symbolic and often indirect. Much of the interaction ritual chains of rights and obligations involve few goods being directly exchanged with the state. Many citizens are not directly conscious of sales taxes, interstate highway systems, and who is receiving what from the state. Instead, most citizens read about the state in the newspapers, watch the TV news, and then engage in discussions with other citizens. The state is brought down to the personal level with announcers, newscasters, friends and acquaintances involved in interaction rituals.

A typology of six different types of citizen-selves motivated by value involvement and behavioral activity can be constructed. This typology—incorporated, active, deferential, cynical, opportunistic, marginal and fatalistic citizen-selves-operates within a context of active or passive social motivation and allegiant or oppositional positions (see Table 2.6).

First, there are two types of participant citizens: the incorporated and the active citizen. The incorporated citizens are generally part of the élite, or feel that they are. They identify with party and governmental interests, and actively participate and support party goals. Self-interest may be involved if they have political jobs or appointed positions, but it is usually not dominant because most will never be compensated for the large amounts of time and money they volunteer for their beliefs. The incorporated citizen is part of the regime, not the grassroots opposition, and is in the middle spectrum of pragmatic politics. Incorporated citizens tend to trust their leaders and operate somewhat altruistically because they benefit from the political system.

Active citizens participate in the many political activities and have concern for the people in their group. However, the active citizen is often engaged in conflict with established élites and most often approaches problems from the grassroots level. The active citizen may belong to a political party, social movement, or some other active association involved in proselytizing an ideology of change. The active citizen is not necessarily left or right, but tends to be in the opposition and the more radical of each political persuasion. This type can include social reformers of an established party, grassroots organizers of any political position, or radical revolutionaries with an activist orientation. Active citizens believe that much can be done altruistically (i.e. for ‘the people’ or ‘the country’); however, in dealing with the opposition, they can be somewhat ruthless.

Second, there are three types of non-participant citizens: the deferential, the cynical, and the marginal citizens. The deferential citizen accepts authority and the leadership of élites but does not strongly internalize the goals of the party or state. The deferential citizen follows tradition and socialization from family experience, but avoids most political activities. Deferential citizens are neither conservative nor radical, although the leadership of élites may come from either direction. Deferential citizens tend to trust political élites because they feel that they clearly benefit from their leadership, but often these behaviors are ritualized and based on tradition. The deferential citizen will leave political participation to élites but will vote and contact politicians for help when in trouble.

Cynical citizens are similar to active citizens, but they do not participate in politics because it is impossible to really do anything about most situations. Cynical citizens may talk about the necessity of political action, but since success is doubtful, they look to improving their own interests. They are passive but often bitter critics of politics and the state.

Marginal citizens are extremely detached and alienated from the system often because of having few resources and little power. Often being in poverty and under extreme emotional distress, they rarely vote or volunteer. Many are targets of policymakers due to fears of deviance or crime. Outside forces or fate appear to control the behavior of marginal citizens, which causes their behavior to appear irrational in the long term or survival-oriented (e.g. short-term ‘street skills’). Immigrants as marginal citizens may simply owe allegiance to another country, and they orient themselves toward family and friends in that society. And in terms of inactivity, both fatalistic loyalist and opposition citizens are closely related to the marginal citizen.

And third, there is the special category of the opportunistic citizens, who are highly motivated to make rational decisions about material interests that affect their short-term and immediate interests. Opportunistic citizens do not participate in political activities unless these activities directly affect their interests, involve substantial income or major services, and can actually achieve the desired outcomes. Otherwise the opportunistic citizen lapses into his or her own private world of interests. In general, politics and ideology are uninteresting to the opportunistic citizen. This citizen represents the self-interest concept with a free rider approach and believes that nothing is being done for free or altruistically. The opportunistic citizen is guided by restricted exchange with time horizons focusing on short-term paybacks. With the rise of individualism in the USA and Europe, this type of citizen-self has been identified as the ‘demanding citizen’ responsible for the breakdown of community and other social institutions.

This typology of citizen-selves can be seen as a cross-classification of value involvement and action position (Almond and Verba, 1965: 21; Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky, 1990: 219, 247-8). Value involvement concerns accepting the value position of the dominant political regime, which ranges from allegiance to apathy and alienation. The citizen’s affectual relationship to the regime is consequently an important and defining dimension of the typology (e.g. incorporated and deferential citizens identify with the regime, whereas activist and cynical citizens oppose it). The regime may benefit or repress the marginal and opportunistic citizens, but they have little value involvement and more apathy toward the regime. Action position refers to behavior including active participation, deferential subjection, and inactive domination or disability. Citizenship activity ranges from little to extensive participation (Verba, Schlozman and Brady, 1996; Verba and Nie, 1972; Janoski, Wilson and Musick, 1997).

Multilayered Citizenship Identities in Politics

Another approach to citizen identity views individuals constructing identities from social interaction in groups and new social movements, which are themselves fundamentally centered upon identity. In this sense, identity explains political action rather than identity being a consequence of economic or other social positions. Primordial loyalties or ascriptive categories—gender, ethnicity, race, idigeneity, and physical or mental challenges—become fundamental political identifiers. This does not mean the identity processes are automatic, but it does imply that they are strongly felt and can be relatively easily mobilized. There are some positions that are not necessarily ascriptive world, cosmopolitan, religious and environmental identities—but these tend not to be the main examples of this approach and could be more easily incorporated into the prior approach. And finally, there are different layers of supranational (e.g. European Union), national, state/province, and local identities that offer formal governmental and/or regional loyalties of citizens (Heater, 1999). The cultural approach is strongly connected to the new social movement literature which came out of Europe and avoided the class basis of earlier social movement theories. New social movements are predicated on the centrality of identity rather than a class position in the mode of production (Herb and Kaplan, 1999; Teske, 1997).

The cultural approach is not essentialist but rather sees each self as nested, multiple, or multilayered from the individual’s perspective (Heater, 1999: 115-54; Deveaux, 2000: 155-57), and that citizenship rights should be differentiated to match this complexity. The concept of multiple selves or the dynamic self has developed within the social psychological literature since the mid-1980s as a healthy description of identity (Markus and Wurf, 1987; Oosterwegel and Oppenheimer, 1993) but it is relatively new to the aggregate level, especially concerning citizenship (Janoski, 1998). Using geologic metaphors, one might look at this self as a multilayered stratum or a conglomerate rock formed from igneous processes fusing many different minerals. The point of this complexity of the self or identity is that it leads to cultural politics where certain group loyalties (i.e. especially class) are not privileged, but negotiated in a complex way.

One major position in this approach to citizenship is the discriminatory nature of universalistic rights, which are seen to be centered upon Western, white, male, straight and class-based cultures (Young, 1990; 1997; Lister, 1990; 1991 and in this volume; Dietz, 1985, 1992; England, 1993; Fraser, 1987; Hernes, 1987; Minow, 1990, Vogel, 1991). These previously dominant cultures are seen as being largely incompatible with the emerging identity approaches of various ethnic, gender, cultural, and multiracial minorities. As a result, these identities can never be subsumed under universalistic rights and require special or particularistic rights to secure their group’s central identities. As mentioned in the earlier section on categorical rights, the strongest claim for the existential priority of identity in this approach is best seen with indigenous peoples whose very acceptance of a Western concept of property rights violates their sense of shared or unowned space (Isin and Wood, 1999; Kymlicka, 1995; Anaya, 1997).

This approach to identity challenges the universalistic foundations of citizenship, with a complete frontal assault on universality, but with a compromise position of differentiated universalistic and particularistic rights to match the highly differentiated and complex identities of multiethnic and multicultural societies. Globalization and increased immigration have helped create this cultural complexity. Marshallian approaches to citizenship use universalistic rights to combat obvious and direct injustices, and then employ immunities and compensation to deal with past residues of unequal results. The cultural approach redefines immunities and compensation into categorical (i.e. cultural rights) that they believe will more strongly defend and promote these threatened identities. Much of this approach needs to be worked out further in terms of avoiding a theory that assumes strongly bounded groups that would then claim these special rights in a pluralistic society (Deveaux, 2000: 154-65).


In the twenty-first century, the political foundations of citizenship are and will be more contested than during the last century. As politics in Foucaultian and postmodern theory has come to see power everywhere (Torfing, 1999; Dyrberg, 1997), theories of citizenship have expanded from the state-citizen relationship to everything citizens might do to change their circumstances whether or not the state is involved (Isin and Wood, 1999: 4). Politics in a Marshallian lens may restrict the term to activities more directly related to the states’ monopoly on legitimate violence, and in so doing, nests citizenship within a social system as a protection against markets/capitalism and various culturally dominant groups.

While some may see this as the cyclical generation of new social theories, what is at stake is more important. Ideas form the foundations of political regimes who use the state to implement policies to promote and protect the wide diversity of peoples. The Marshallian approach with its universalistic rights made more sensitive to differences with contingent and compensatory rights has provided a useful approach to advance the rights and protect many citizens from abuses from civil society (e.g. the Klu Klux Klan or neo-Nazi groups) and the state (e.g. the police). And to a certain degree, cultural rights can be successfully applied to separable national groups such as the Nunavit nation in Canada and Maori in New Zealand. But when and if the cultural approach of differentiated rights is applied through law and state bureaucracies, it may very well achieve some greater protections for non-separable minorities, but will it create a governable system of rights that will also satisfy majorities and the ‘non-grouped’? What applies to the Inuit in the Arctic may not work with women and other ethnic minorities who do not want a separate legal system. The challenge to citizenship theories in the future is not an all-or-nothing choice of group or individual rights, but rather the complex bricolage of both approaches that will work in a system of legitimate rights (Martin, 1993; Gewirth, 1996).

On the other hand, there is a certain complementarity between the two approaches. Marshallian citizenship theory focuses on interest groups and the state’s creation of citizenship rights. Cultural approaches focusing on identity are much more concerned with the formation and operation of social movements, and skipping a level, globalization and international civil society. The strengths of each approach tend to the weaknesses of the other, and with further development both can be fruitfully combined to provide a comprehensive explanation of citizenship. Along with citizenship rights as being connected to the state, theories of civil society also need to be developed to provide the informal aspects of citizenship integrating both the public and private spheres. The end result would be a stronger foundation of the rights and obligations of citizenship.