In this chapter, the author interrogates Rainer Bauböck's stakeholder model
as a matter of theory and highlights possibly unsustainable empirical
assumptions behind it. The intergenerational qualities of citizenship are
central to Bauböck's analysis. Bauböck understands that citizenship persists
only where boundaries exist and where populations remain relatively
sedentary. The author utilizes the archetypes of diaspora communities to
critique his position on citizenship inside and outside the territory of the
state. Diaspora communities may be disconnected from the political community
of their state of residence even as they maintain a strong intergenerational
connection qualifying as stakeholder citizenship in the homeland. Local
territorial membership also supplies a useful vehicle for interrogating
stakeholder citizenship. The incidence of instrumental citizenship will
continue to grow, further undermining the empirical premises of stakeholder
Rainer Bauböck's “Democratic
Inclusion: A Pluralistic Theory of Citizenship” is characteristically
incisive. In this essay and elsewhere (e.g. Bauböck 2003, 2007 ), he has liberated normative political theory from the
girdle of territorial boundary conditions. If ever it was, it is obviously no
longer possible to posit a world of perfectly segmented national communities.
For normative theory to remain relevant, it has to acknowledge the mismatch
between borders on the map and the boundaries of human community.
Bauböck's work offers a rigorous defence of citizenship and the state
against the new architectures of globalization.
It's as good a defence as can be offered. But political theorists
do not the state make. Membership in the state remains supremely important; by
far the most important associational attachment of individuals. But there are
cracks in the edifice. Bauböck confronts the territorial leakiness of
state-based communities. But the assault on the state is more insidious than he
can safely concede.
This essay interrogates Bauböck's stakeholder model as a
matter of theory and highlights possibly unsustainable empirical assumptions
behind it. It is unclear what binds citizens together in the stakeholder state.
There is a suggestion of shared purpose, but it is not apparent what that
purpose consists of beyond the collective maintenance of a safe space,
democratically self-governed. That seems a weak reed on which to support the
heavy lifting of the liberal state. The intergenerational qualities of
citizenship are central to Bauböck's analysis. Although those
intergenerational qualities serve the interests of both the state and liberal
conceptions of justice, it is not clear that they are necessary to community or
that they can independently generate the kind of solidarity necessary to
sustaining citizenship as we know it.
Bauböck understands that citizenship persists only where
boundaries exist and where populations remain relatively sedentary. States and
citizenship cannot survive a condition of hypermobility. Whether the globe
remains sedentary is an empirical question. There is strong evidence in the
numbers that sedentary conditions continue to exist. But the trend is to
greater mobility, and it may be that some state of greater mobility, short of
extreme mobility, will pose greater challenges to the state than Bauböck
allows. I use the archetypes of diaspora communities to critique his position
on citizenship inside and outside the territory of the state. Diaspora
communities may be disconnected from the political community of their state of
residence even as they maintain a strong intergenerational connection
qualifying as stakeholder citizenship in the homeland.
Non-state communities will also compete with citizenship in the
state. These communities also comprehend the boundary and diversity conditions
on which stakeholder citizenship is premised. They may also have broad
jurisdictional reach. Unlike state-based communities, non-state communities
have largely retained discretion to set their own membership criteria. That
advantages them as locations for associative activity. What is old is new
again, this time fuelled by material changes in communications. Meanwhile,
community at the local level supplies some indirect evidence that community can
exist in conditions of greater mobility. This possibility contradicts
Bauböck's insistence on birthright citizenship and transgenerational
community, both of which appear necessary to citizenship in independent states.
Both phenomena will tend to contribute to stronger community but only where
they are supported by sociological ties. In the case of diasporas and other
forms of transnational communities, those ties will sometimes suffice to
sustain solidarities in the absence of territorial presence.
At the same time, material developments challenge the binary
quality of citizenship. Social attachments are increasingly scalar, something
that citizenship's in/out form has difficulty processing. Citizenship law is no
longer well equipped to sort inauthentic claims from authentic ones. The scalar
nature of attachment also challenges citizenship's equality condition. To adapt
to variable levels of membership, citizenship might have to abandon equality.
But it is not clear what remains of citizenship without equality, since
equality is located at its ideological core. The spaces we inhabit do not have
to be the ones that are represented on the world map. The transformation, and
its implications for citizenship, may only become legible in the longer term.
But surely we are not in an equilibrium state. Stakeholder citizenship may not
be radical enough for the times.
What is the stake that holds citizenship together?
“Stakeholder citizenship” is
an appealing Goldilocks label. On the one hand, the theory frames citizenship
as something more substantial than the thin gruel of constitutional patriotism,
under which a common faith in constitutional democracy putatively binds the
citizenry. On the other, it is not unrealistic in the way of the methodological
statism that has characterized autarkic liberal theories of citizenship, much
less the gluey and oppressive ethno-cultural versions of national community. It
is inclusive in the context of a system that (mostly) slots individuals into
one or two but not all of many different polities. It takes account of movement
among states, liberal autonomy values, the continued dominance of territorially
based governance and the possibility (up to a point) of non-territorial
identity. Stakeholder citizenship promises a taste that's just right for the
The key, of course, is how the stake behind stakeholder
citizenship is defined. Bauböck sets down the requirement that citizens
“must be able to see themselves and each other as members of a transgenerational
political community whose government institutions have to track the collective
will of the citizenry” (p. 63). The vision is a self-consciously
republican one. “Citizens are stakeholders in a democratic political
community insofar as their autonomy and well-being depend not only on being
recognized as a member in a particular polity,” Bauböck writes,
“but also on that polity being governed democratically” (p. 41).
Those who have a shared interest in self-government will also have a shared
interest in the “flourishing” of that polity.
Does that suffice to build the social solidarity necessary to
sustain a state? (Words like “solidarity” and “bonds”
go missing in describing stakeholder citizenship, where “collective
will” and “common good” are centred.) I admit to being
instinctively sceptical of republican theories of citizenship as an American
old enough to have lived through the mid and late twentieth century – a
period of contentious but genuinely engaged self-governance – who must
now suffer today's appalling spectacle of national politics with few entry
points for responsible participation. Self-situated contingencies aside, there
are systematic reasons to be suspicious of any theory of citizenship that
hinges mostly on process. In this respect, stakeholder citizenship is a thicker
variant of constitutional patriotism. Constitutional patriotism is grounded in
a kind of faith in constitutional democracy. Stakeholder citizenship adds a
material element – the individual and collective interest in
self-governance. Both are elementally civic, with no social or cultural
Stakeholder citizenship has the advantage, at least, of a
bounded element. Territory, unlike belief in constitutional democracy, is
distinctive, and physical presence is singular. It is a common interest in
self-governance in a particular shared space that defines stakeholder
citizenship. Although stakeholder citizenship makes allowances for movement,
conceding the continuing attachment of first generation emigrants, it remains
territorially driven. Absence from the homeland territory eventually results in
the curtailment of transgenerational transmission. Those who establish
residence in state territory should be afforded access to citizenship after
some reasonable period.
The theory is mostly decoupled from examples or empirics. I
understand that parsimony is a disciplinary characteristic. But it seems fair
game to test the theory against developments on the ground.
Stakeholder citizenship processes diaspora populations better
than ethno-cultural conceptions of citizenship. Diasporas are a challenge
nonetheless. As a community that defines itself in part (possibly in larger
part) in relation to another state, the question is how it relates to the state
of residence. There is reason to be sceptical of the proposition that the
interest in self-governance in the state of residence will establish a
community. Of course, individuals have an interest in public order and
non-interference with their autonomy. But as long as they are undisturbed in
the governance of their own community (typically through non-state
institutional channels), it is not clear that they have a self-governance
interest in the community defined in terms of the state, much less its
Bauböck anticipates a variant on this objection with the
example of apolitical individuals and the monk in the monastery; that they,
too, will be better off as citizens of a democratic polity (p. 41). I wonder to
what extent that is true for those who, like monks, exist in communities
insulated from the state, so long as they are allowed to go about their
business as monks behind the monastery walls (a capacity now protected by
substantive, exogenously imposed human rights more than procedural, internally
generated self-governance – more on that below). The same could be true
among diaspora populations whose identities are more tied to their place of
origin and who can (in concentrations) confine interactions to other
diasporans. So long as the state maintains some level of order and doesn't
interfere with their own self-governance, these kinds of insulated communities
may not have an interest in self-governance at the level of the state.
The volitional element of stakeholder citizenship acquired after
birth, reflected in the theory's preference for naturalization at will over
automatic naturalization (pp. 37; 66), does not nullify the objection. In the
conventional narrative, naturalization evidenced a commitment to the state of
naturalization. Typically coupled with termination of homeland citizenship,
this template correlated with the citizenship discourse of “loyalty” and
“allegiance”. Naturalization was a solemn exercise, not always but
on average, framed as a “new political birth”, in the words of one
mid-nineteenth-century U.S. official (Spiro 1997). If
only because of the perceived impossibility of multiple nationality,
naturalization would have been more likely both to reflect and accelerate
membership in the adopted national community. The transferred attachment was
singular. The naturalized citizen would have had a clear interest in the
“flourishing” of that community because he wouldn't have any
Today, much less can be read into the agency of the act of
naturalization. Naturalizing citizens are now enabled to naturalize for purely
instrumental reasons (Spiro 2007a). Now that multiple
nationality is widely accepted, the cost of naturalization has been reduced. A
correspondingly lower level of benefit will suffice to incentivize
naturalization. Citizenship acquisition cannot be taken to represent strong
commitment. The pervasiveness of multiple nationality itself reduces the
commitment. Retention of original citizenship makes sentimental and material
attachment to country of origin more competitive with attachment to country of
naturalization. Naturalizing citizens are less likely to be all-in. Indeed
naturalization has become an exit strategy. Empirical research is identifying
some long-time residents who are naturalizing in their state of immigration
only at the time they decide to retire back in their country of origin, by way
of ensuring re-entry rights (Gilbertson and Singer 2003; Mateos
Of course, naturalizing citizens (along with long-term
residents) will still have an interest in protected autonomy. They might even
have an interest in collective self-governance insofar as that autonomy is
threatened. Will they have an interest in the “flourishing” of
their new national community? Maybe, maybe not. That could depend on the
relative strength of alternative attachments to national and non-national
communities and the capacity of those communities to provide alternative safe
spaces. Participation in self-governance activity may give rise to a shared
identity. Or such participation could entrench a sense of persistent
alienation. One does not need to look very hard for examples of this
Beyond political community
Here is another way of putting it:
citizens may not have that much interest in collective self-governance in
states. The security imperative that was once so central to state function
(providing a safe space against hostile competitor states) has dissipated.
Terrorism creates security needs, but the battle lines do not coincide with
state borders and the defence does not require mass, state level mobilization.
The redistributive capacity of states may also be waning. As the state
retreats, citizens may thus have little or no stake in self-governance. This
poses a challenge to the territorial inclusiveness of stakeholder citizenship.
It seems no response to say that these citizens don't understand their real
interests. Their lack of interest in collective self-governance, much less the
flourishing of the state, may be completely rational. The opting out applies
most obviously to new territorial entrants, who will never have opted in, but
over the long run it will apply to others as well.
Political membership may be decentred in a way that
Bauböck's theory cannot process. In an Arendtian move, Bauböck posits
the “extreme precariousness” of those who lack membership in a
particular political community. “To put it positively: membership in a
polity is a necessary condition for human autonomy and well-being” (p.
40). Defined narrowly as participation in democratic self-government at the
level of states, this seems both empirically doubtful and possibly
condescending to the many individuals who live self-fulfilled, post-political
lives. In the United States, for example, many people have checked themselves
out of the political process, and for good reason. The level of enmity is high.
Rent-seeking abounds. Legacy ideological and institutional constraints severely
limit the possibilities for constructive action. Politics is a waste of
This may reflect frayed underlying community. In a national
frame, solidarities have dissipated. The New Yorker may not feel much in common
with the Alabaman. The thinning common identity explains the inability to
undertake compromise and sacrifice in the spirit of a shared project – to
reach across the aisle, in American political parlance. The exercise of engaging in political
self-governance based on territorial boundaries cannot by itself shore up the
crumbling edifice. Politics cannot compensate for an absence of shared
Bauböck is surely correct that “humans are social
animals” (p. 40). But people do not need to locate their need for
community in national political community, which is increasingly artificial and
non-organic. In the range of community choice, individuals may see a higher
probability of meeting their social needs in non-state communities. There are
many people finding fulfilment behind the monastery walls these days. These
communities may be gated, literally or metaphorically. But, then again, so are
states. As Bauböck observes, the boundary condition is necessary to
stakeholder citizenship. It is also satisfied in the context of other forms of
Behind the (non-state) walls, politics continues. This will be
obvious to all of us in the many facets of our associative existence. Family,
faculty, church, club: there are always differences of opinion on the best ways
to enhance community prosperity, from the micro level on up. There is literally
no community in which all members “[share] the same interests, a single
collective identity as members and the same ideas about the common good”
(p. 8). All bounded communities thus also satisfy Bauböck's diversity
condition. Whether that diversity will exceed the diversity of community
defined by the modern territorial state is contingent. Walzer posits that
“A citizen, we might say, is a man whose largest or most inclusive group
is the state” (Walzer 1982: 218). This is a
cornerstone fallacy of liberal nationalism. The citizen of a small state who is
also a Catholic will find a larger, more inclusive group in the non-state
community. The Catholic Church excludes those who aren't church members. But
consistent with the boundary condition, states exclude non-members as well.
They are not essentially more inclusive.
States, it is true, tend to have a greater reach in terms of
jurisdiction. They are not issue-specific demoi, as Bauböck puts it (pp.
11–12). But nor are many non-state communities. The regulatory breadth of
communities, state and non-state, is also contingent. States are constrained in
their reach in various ways. Just as bye-laws set association rules,
constitutions and other governing instruments set the limits of state power. In terms
of effect on everyday life, state rules may be less intrusive than the rules of
the non-state communities of which citizens are members. Religions set
comprehensive standards of conduct, some subject to institutional supervision,
all (for believers, at least) subject to enforcement by an authority higher
than the state. Educational institutions widely regulate behaviour, especially
for students, backed by various enforcement tools including expulsion.
Professional communities and employers impose ethical rules not demanded by the
state. The state may have powers of coercion that are not available to
non-state communities, but state enforcement is idealized. There are many
contexts in which enforcement of state-based rules is anaemic or non-existent,
their regulatory ambition pretentious. The Mormon Church's tithing requirement,
for example, enjoys better compliance than compliance with state-based tax
obligations (Spiro 2007b).
The state has historically done a better job than other
institutions at protecting autonomy, serving as the meta-association that
enables other forms of associations. However, today we can query state
performance along this metric, too. It is not just in failed states that states
are falling short of their obligations to protect. As noted above, autonomy
protection by itself doesn't suffice to maintain meaningful community. Autonomy
norms are no longer generated by domestic political processes in any case.
Human rights obligations require states to provide territorially present
individuals with such protection. Whether or not human rights norms are
effective as an empirical matter is somewhat beside the point. The requirement
to provide the safe space is the result of inter-community engagement, not
intra-community interaction on a republican model. States increasingly serve as
an administrative servant of the global system.
States are even becoming constrained by international law in
their membership practices, something that hardly computes in a Walzerian
equation (Spiro 2011). “Access to
citizenship” points to citizenship for habitual residents as a baseline
from which to perfect other rights. It also looks to apply non-discrimination
norms to citizenship practice, a radical departure from the historical
discretion afforded sovereigns respecting membership. To the extent states are required to
extend citizenship to some they would otherwise reject, this further detaches
citizenship from social membership. It is not always clear how stakeholder
citizenship accounts for the rights-advancing dimension of citizenship. For
example, Bauböck justifies birthright citizenship in part as a mechanism
for reducing statelessness (p. 71). Ditto for the presumption of lifelong
membership. In neither case is it clear how the membership rule correlates to
the stakeholder theory. What about the cases in which advancing rights and
recognizing stake are decoupled? There is a whiff of reverse-engineering here.
The rights-advancing practice is validated even where the connection to
stakeholding is non-obvious. In any case, foisting members on states will do
them no good as locations of community.
Other forms of community are less constrained in their
membership practices. It is a cornerstone of free association that non-state
communities can pick and choose among prospective members. Domestic law may
impose constraints, but these constraints are usually qualified. In the United
States, for example, a university may discriminate on the basis of race so long
as it does not accept government funding. Non-state communities may also expel
members at will, a capacity largely denied states under international law. The
continuing latitude of non-state communities to determine their membership
boundaries contributes to their growing strength relative to states, whose own
membership practices are increasingly set by exogenous agents.
What local citizenship teaches us
Local territorial membership also
supplies a useful vehicle for interrogating stakeholder citizenship. Local
citizenship implicates the necessary spatial aspects of our existence. Leaving
aside the very rich, for whom the concept of habitual residence has become
antiquated, most of us have a place where we spend most of our time. We remain
sedentary in a national frame as well as a global one. In that place we have
clear material interests – in police and fire protection, primary and
secondary education, utilities, infrastructure and other matters typically within
local jurisdiction. It is at the local level that one might more expect a
collective interest in self-governance and a higher incidence of political
engagement. (Republican theorists since Rousseau have always been more sanguine
about the possibility of republican government on the small scale.) The stake
in stakeholder citizenship seems more apparent at the level of the locality
than that of the state.
In most states, membership at the local level takes the form of
ius domicili. This makes sense, to the extent that the stake will largely
correlate with territorial presence. Compared with national citizenship,
territorial spillovers of local government will be of a lower order. Most
localities have no extraterritorial jurisdiction, which reduces a potential
disconnect between residents and those whose interests are affected. (A
persistent exception is presented by the case of non-resident property owners.)
The lack of extraterritorial jurisdiction nearly eliminates the disconnect
between residents and those subject to coercion. The absence of territorial
spillovers may also justify the non-practice of local citizenship for
Bauböck does not expressly disparage local citizenship on
these terms. To the extent local citizenship qualifies as stakeholder
citizenship, it comes across as a stepchild variant. It is not clear why this
should be so. The fact that local citizenship is automatic, with no exercise of
will on the individual's part, might be taken to diminish its solemnity. But we
have seen above that volition, to the extent it is exercised instrumentally,
may reflect no commitment on the individual's part. The opposite is also true.
The lack of a volitional element does not necessarily evidence lack of
commitment, especially when no mechanism is offered for exercising such
volition. (Locating oneself in a local community reflects a kind of volition
– voting with one's feet – but it is overdetermined.) Many local
residents/citizens are passionately committed to their subnational
jurisdiction, with a transparently expressed ambition for its
“flourishing”. In these respects, the stakeholder label
The stake can be decoupled from a stake in the state in which
the locality is situated (Spiro 2009). Bauböck
asserts that we “cannot make sense of claims to inclusion in the city of Florence, the
region of Tuscany or the European Union without describing first the different
nature of these polities and their relations with the Italian state” (p.
51). I am not so sure. One can be a sociological member of a locality or a
region without being a sociological member of a national state. This is the
logic of non-citizen voting in local elections. Although membership in
localities and regions (and of course the European Union) is formally tied to
national citizenship, they could be decoupled. There is an incipient movement
in the United States on the part of some states to extend distinct state
citizenship that is not conditioned on national citizenship (Spiro 2010). The primary object is to express solidarity with
unauthorized migrant co-residents. But the movement could turn into something
more. Some legal migrants may identify strongly with their adopted locality
while not identifying at all with the national community of their new place of
residence. The long-time EU-citizen resident of New York may love New York and
hate the United States. Territorial identities may move beyond methodologically
assimilated nested arrangements. One might even look to deploy Bauböck's
“constellations” in intra-state contexts as well as transnational
ones (Bauböck 2010).
Local citizenship lacks a formal mechanism of transgenerational
transmission. But this will not cancel the stakeholder quality of residential
citizenship at the local level. People are often sedentary within the state;
families remain in localities over generations. Although individuals will not
secure local citizenship by birth, birth in a locality will often coincide with
Transgenerationality, plus or minus
It is not clear why stake should be
contingent on transgenerationality in the first place. We are all members of
various communities of which our children are not and may not become members.
Although our perceived stake (however defined) in those communities may be
intensified in the face of a transgenerational element, it is not contingent on
It is true that all states provide for transgenerational
transmission of citizenship. But that may be a reflection of instrumental value
from the state's perspective more than a necessary condition to establishing
stakeholder citizenship. The transaction costs of establishing citizenship
would otherwise be high. In the past, the mechanisms of birthright citizenship
(ius sanguinis and/or ius soli) matched well with social membership on the
ground. Most individuals born to citizen parents and/or born on national
territory were by that fact set on a trajectory of a life of communal
solidarities with other members.
But why transgenerationality is a necessary condition of
stakeholder citizenship in the state remains unclear. Transgenerationality by
itself is unlikely to generate a sense of shared identity. There is a certain
“build it and they will come” flavour to this element of
Bauböck's analysis. Alternatively, birthright citizenship is a legacy
condition whose historical prevalence makes it appear constitutive to the form.
As Bauböck notes, over-inclusion is obvious in some cases, including those
in which an expansive ius soli regime extends citizenship at birth to someone
who leaves soon thereafter (aka birth tourism) (p. 70). In other cases it will
be less obvious, as where individuals are born and remain in a state without
perceiving any stake in membership (and perhaps not having one, at least not at
the national level) as defined in the stakeholder model.
Bauböck implicitly recognizes the limits of
transgenerationality when he calls for extinguishing citizenship for external
citizens past the second generation (and cutting off from the franchise the
second generation itself). “It is obvious,” writes Bauböck,
“that third generation emigrants will generally not have a sufficiently
strong stake in a grandparent's country of origin to claim citizenship, unless
their parents have themselves renewed their links to this country through
taking up residence there” (p. 69). So transgenerationality will not
suffice to establish a stake in the state-based polity. Territoriality is also
a necessary condition.
This result may be under-inclusive. The stake (conventionally
defined) for third generation external citizens will be attenuated relative to
those who are territorially present. That will be true under alternative
theories of citizenship. Their interests will be less affected by homeland
they will be less subject to compulsion than those territorially present. It is
not as clear why they should be disqualified under the somewhat stylized notion
of stake in the theory of stakeholder citizenship. Although the homeland
government will have less control over their physical space and physical
autonomy, it can constrain autonomy in other ways. There will be many contexts
in which external residents feel a stake in membership in the homeland
community. There is an increasing fluidity between internal and external
communities. Many externally born children are sent home for school, thus
sustaining the connection more intensively than in historical migrant
trajectories (Smith 2002). Other second
generation diaspora members return for good, but their children will be enabled
to return to the external residence through ius sanguinis citizenship rules
(King and Christou 2010). The flows are not
linear and defy conventional narratives.
The diasporas, again, supply the paradigm case in which
individuals will feel exactly the sort of stake that Bauböck describes.
How else to explain the intense pressure from the diasporas (including many not
conventionally categorized as such, under such monikers as transborder or
transnational communities) to secure acceptance of multiple citizenship (e.g.
Barry 2006; Itzigohn 2012)? There are sometimes material benefits attached to the status with
respect to visa-free travel, the capacity to own property, residency rights,
and the like. But these benefits will often be marginal, for example for
citizens of European states who move to the U.S. or other non-EU OECD states.
These individuals will have premium passports when they naturalize in their new
state of residence, but many have mobilized nonetheless in places like Denmark
and the Netherlands to be enabled to keep their citizenship of origin. An
important motivation appears to be passing the status on to children. The
Indian diaspora has been extended a status labelled Overseas Citizenship of
India. It includes most of the advantages of real citizenship, save the vote.
But some in the diaspora are nonetheless demanding full citizenship, and it is
not clear that these demands can be resisted in the long term. What better
control for the stakeholder theory: a case in which individuals are clearly
interested in membership as such, stripped almost entirely of its instrumental
advantage. It should not be surprising that other scholars have put
“stakeholder” to work in establishing diasporic community (Addis 2012).
The diaspora context, even beyond the second generation, also
supplies examples of individuals whose well-being depends on the
“flourishing” of their homeland community. The use of the word
betrays, I think, an element beyond the procedural citizenship that stakeholder
theory suggests. For one's well-being to depend on the
“flourishing” of a community, one has to identify with it.
Otherwise, functionality will suffice. Identity does not appear central to
Bauböck's orientation. But for a community to do the kind of heavy lifting
required of the liberal state, some level of identification is required.
In the end, then, the mismatch between territory and political
community at the national level is greater than stakeholder theory alone can
correct. Within the national territory, increasing numbers will lack the sort
of interest in membership and self-government required to sustain a community.
Outside, there are growing numbers for whom transgenerational membership is
valued even in republican terms.
The problem for stakeholder citizenship
may be that the lines are not as sharp as Bauböck would suppose. He
highlights blurriness as a deficiency in competing theories of citizenship. I
agree that affected interests and amenability to coercion don't work for
purposes of delimiting citizenship. But stakeholder theory may suffer the same
problem. In this respect, the suggestions above do not need to establish sharp
alternative lines, since I am not proposing an alternative theory of
citizenship. I just need to show that Bauböck's lines are also blurry.
The problem with all of these theories, and with citizenship as
we know it, is that they require the sharp lines. Citizenship has a binary
quality – you either have it or you don't. Historically this was not a
weakness. The lines on the ground were well marked. The binary aspect of citizenship was
well adapted to a world in which states were segmented from each other in both
sociological and territorial terms. The binariness was a feature, not a bug.
Coupled with exclusivity (the former norm against multiple nationality), the
binariness of nationality helped keep national communities distinct where they
might otherwise be blurry. Citizenship helped maintain good fences. But it
could do that kind of work only on the margins – in border zones and in
the context of limited migration. For the most part, nationality wasn't
arbitrary. It reflected social attachment.
Today, citizenship no longer serves a border-policing function.
Nor could it. The lines have gotten too blurry on the ground. It is no longer
clear where one citizenry leaves off and the other picks up. This is reflected
in recent acceptance of multiple nationality. That makes the citizenship binary
an uncomfortable fit for sociological realities, and not just because there is
more overlap among national communities. The problem is that the underlying
attachments are more scalar. You can be in for a little or in for a lot, or
somewhere in between.
The “genuine links” approach to nationality that
sounds in Nottebohm is no longer a very useful metric for assessing
membership. It doesn't take much to establish a genuine link. International law
assumes that birth in state territory suffices, regardless of subsequent
history, and Bauböck effectively concedes the point. He would contest
ancestry beyond the first emigrant generation. But ancestry would almost
certainly qualify for international law purposes, and for good reason. As
demonstrated above, many will maintain affective and material interests in the
homeland on an intergenerational basis. The problem with the genuine link
threshold (as with Bauböck's) is an inability to sort authentic
citizenship from inauthentic citizenship. A third generation emigrant might or
might not have an authentic tie to the grandparent's homeland. Citizenship law
will have difficulty ferreting out instrumentalist claims (Spiro forthcoming). States have incentives to cast the net
widely, for reasons of expediency or fairness, so that they do not exclude
authentic claims. That leads to acceptance of plural citizenship, which in
turns gives individuals little incentive to self-sort. The cost of maintaining
citizenships will typically be low. Individuals are enabled to maintain
citizenship in states to which they have a high, moderate or negligible level
The result might not be troubling except for the other binary
element of citizenship: equality. You are either a citizen or not. If you are a
citizen, you have the same status as all other citizens. “The idea of
equality of membership,” Bauböck notes, “is fundamental for
democracy” (p. 47). Citizenship is closely identified with equality.
Citizenship without equality loses its essential meaning. In a context in which
national communities were sharply segmented, citizenship advanced equality (if
only imperfectly) within a group in which all members merited equality. The
equality element does not translate well in a world in which not all citizens
merit equality even if their citizenship is authentic. Citizenship has trouble
adapting to gradations of sociological membership. Equality may no longer be
imperative to citizenship. It might not even be appropriate.
Voting rights point to the decoupling of citizenship and
equality. As external citizen communities have become more politically active
in their homelands, they have demanded and secured external voting rights
(Spiro 2003). As suggested above, this evidences
stakeholder citizenship in external communities. But the average level of
interest and participation will be lower in external communities, reflecting
the aggregately lower, more highly variable self-governance interest. (One
should pause to remember that self-governance interests will also be variable
among territorial residents, and absolute participation may be low, but it is
likely to be higher than external participation and interest.) External citizen
interests will also tend to be distinctive.
The resulting dilemma lends itself to bespoke arrangements. Many
states have created electoral districts for citizens abroad, giving them a
direct voice in national legislatures. But these districts have not been
apportioned on the same basis as internal ones (Collyer 2013). These schemes abandon the equality premise of one person, one vote;
your vote as an external citizen counts less than your vote as a resident
citizen. (Interestingly, Bauböck accepts such underweighting, at least
voters would “swamp” resident ones (Bauböck 2007).) But diluted voting for external citizens makes
sense. It is better than the alternatives. To deny external citizens the right
to vote altogether would contravene legitimate self-governance interests. To
extend full voting power to external citizens would blinker the reduced level
of those interests. The result is something other than political equality.
Citizenship's equality will be pressured from other directions.
Non-citizen residents are now understood to have self-governance interests of
their own, and increasingly enjoy local voting rights. Why should they be
denied full political equality because they do not want to engage in the
loyalty test of naturalization? Meanwhile, plural citizenship will create
various citizenship-generated inequalities that are only starting to be legible
(Balta and Altan-Olcay 2016; Spiro forthcoming). Especially in developing states, those who
also hold premium citizenships will enjoy enhanced life opportunities over
their mono-national neighbours (Cook-Martín 2013; Harpaz 2015). To the extent that
(inevitably) some have acquired dual citizenship through inauthentic claims,
the result will look random. Citizenship was once a badge of equality. It may
come to reek of arbitrary privilege.
Citizenship as we have known it cannot
process a condition of transnationality. This incapacity explains recent work
in normative political theory seeking to restore the institution and defend it
against oppositional forces. Against the conventional posture, these efforts
find progressive theorists calling for limitations on the extension of
citizenship. Bauböck's work reflects this trend (e.g. Shachar 2009). His prescription that citizenship not descend
past the second external generation, for example, looks to shore up the stake
in stakeholder citizenship. So too with increasingly vigorous progressive
denunciations of investor citizenship, the rise of which strikes at the core of
liberal nationalist ideology (Shachar and Bauböck 2014).
In this response, I have suggested that the republican
orientation of stakeholder citizenship does not match the impoverished
political landscapes of our time, which have been transformed by community
alignments that no longer trace national boundaries. That makes stakeholder
citizenship questionable as a normative matter.
Theory aside, states show little interest in scaling back the
availability of citizenship on a liberal nationalist basis. Some extensions of
citizenship serve instrumental state purposes, ancestral citizenship among them
(Barry 2006; Fitzgerald 2008). When citizenship is extended in one direction, the human rights
hydraulic demands that it be extended in others (Spiro 2011). Powerful groups develop a vested interest in the availability of
citizenship at the same time that extending citizenship typically poses low
fiscal costs. Politically, once the citizenship circle is widened, it is
difficult to shrink back. The political prospects for reinforcing citizenship's
value are low. The incidence of instrumental citizenship will continue to grow,
further undermining the empirical premises of stakeholder citizenship.
In other words, the condition is terminal. Bauböck asserts
that this is “very bad news indeed” (p. 5). I agree that the
decline of citizenship will compound the many instabilities of our time.
Perhaps theorists should now turn their sights towards carrying citizenship
values forward to novel institutional arrangements.
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