Monday, September 19, 2011

Citizenship and Immigration - Christian Joppke

Citizenship and Immigration
By Christian Joppke
Polity Press, 2010

Review by Ramona Wadi

Joppke constructs a detailed account of the various factors and underlying circumstances in order to define the various concepts of citizenship. By delving into early political thought, philosophy and societal norms, Joppke portrays the quest by political power to inventing a social norm which constitutes a semblance of social order, therefore attempting to establish the interwoven concepts of rights, status and identity.

Marx's perception of citizenship serves as a warning for citizens in any particular society based on capitalist politics. A perceived equality in citizenship only served to alienate citizens further, binding them to servitude under the interdependence of capitalism and citizenship. According to Marx, citizenship was a formality which sought to conceal inequalities within social classes in capitalist societies under the assumption of creating the conditions for equality.

Weber's argument is that citizenship also authorises the possibility of use of force, by creating discourse that the government needs to protect its citizens from a state of war. Thus, violence may be used as a weapon against violence under the assumption of the state protecting its citizens. The various definitions of citizenship fragments citizens' involvement in society, essentially contrasting one aspect of citizenship against the other, creating the need to formulate laws which seek to regulate the divisions foisted on society by a single, yet diverse concept.

The concept of citizenship has evolved through the years, defined by global and social upheavals - revolutions, migration, war, ethnic conflicts have all created the conditions necessitating a redefinition of citizenship. Various studies have fragmented the study of citizenship and rights, especially with regard to minorities in society. Although various states have allowed dual nationality or naturalisation, the restriction of migrants' participation in society led to multiculturalism discourse flanked by anti-discrimination laws, suggesting that society and governments exhibit a reluctance towards a form of citizenship based on equal rights. Despite the accessibility of citizenship, the loss of identity has become evident in society, as multiculturalism blends into assimilation, with migrants having to choose and forfeit slivers of cultural identity in order to claim status and rights.

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