Linda Bosniak

in The Oxford Handbook of Legal Studies

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780199248179
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:


Common themes and common divides have come to organize citizenship discourse both within and beyond legal studies. Broadly speaking, questions about citizenship can be divided into three categories: those that concern the substance of citizenship (what citizenship is), those that concern its domain or location (where citizenship takes place), and those that concern the subjects of citizenship (who is a citizen). Each of these questions, in turn, has received a range of conventionally acceptable answers which have served to structure the citizenship debates. This article sketches out some of the main responses conventionally offered to each of these questions. It contends that citizenship is a flexible enough concept to take on new meanings, even some that appear sharply in tension with earlier understandings. The idea of citizenship contains enough universalist normative content that it can plausibly be used as a resource for challenging narrower and more exclusive understandings. In the end, however, arguments about citizenship are less about the scope and meaning of the term itself than they are about the value and legitimacy of the political practices and ideals the word is used to represent.

Keywords: citizenship; legal scholarship; political practices; citizenship debate

Article.  8691 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Civil Law

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