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The Inevitable Lightening of Citizenship

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2010

Christian Joppke*
Université américaine de Paris, [].
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This paper scrutinizes the paradox of the increasing objective yet diminishing subjective value of citizenship in Western states. The decreasing subjective value points to an inevitable lightening of citizenship, which persists despite states’ recent efforts to upgrade and re-nationalize citizenship by ceremony, civic integration tests, and more exclusive rights. I discuss some features of citizenship light, most notably instrumentalism and a dissociation of citizenship from nationhood. The recently court-empowered European Union citizenship serves as an illustration.


Montée de la valeur objective de la citoyenneté dans les pays occidentaux et diminution de sa valeur subjective font paradoxe. Les États ont beau faire des efforts pour donner de la solennité à l’octroi de la citoyenneté (cérémonie de naturalisation et test d’intégration), la conclusion s’impose : la citoyenneté s’allège inévitablement. L’article analyse certains aspects de ce processus, en particulier l’instrumentalisme et la dissociation entre nationalité et citoyenneté. Le débat juridique sur la citoyenneté européenne sert d’illustration.


Das Paradox eines objektiv steigenden aber gleichzeitig subjektiv sinkenden Werts der Staatsbürgerschaft in westlichen Staaten verdient eine genauere Untersuchung. Ihr subjektiv abnehmender Wert weist auf ein unausweichliches “Leichterwerden” der Staatsbürgerschaft hin, trotz gegenläufiger staatlicher Initiativen, den Staatsbürgerstatus aufzuwerten und zu re-nationalisieren (zum Beispiel durch symbolische Verleihungen, Einbürgerungstests und exklusivere Rechte). Ich skizziere einige Elemente der “leichten” Staatsbürgerschaft, insbesondere Instrumentalismus und eine Trennung von Staatsangehörigkeit und Nationalität. Die durch Entscheidungen des Europäischen Gerichtshofs mächtig vorangetriebene Unionsbürgerschaft dient als Illustration.

Research Articles
Copyright © A.E.S. 2010

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