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Citizenship as Foundation of Rights
Meaning for America

$29.99 (G)

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  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107568037

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Citizenship as Foundation of Rights explores the nature and meaning of American citizenship and the rights flowing from citizenship in the context of current debates around politics, including immigration. The book explains the sources of citizenship rights in the Constitution and focuses on three key citizenship rights - the right to vote, the right to employment, and the right to travel in the US. It explains why those rights are fundamental and how national identification systems and ID requirements to vote, work and travel undermine the fundamental citizen rights. Richard Sobel analyzes how protecting citizens' rights preserves them for future generations of citizens and aspiring citizens here. No other book offers such a clarification of fundamental citizen rights and explains how ID schemes contradict and undermine the constitutional rights of American citizenship.

    • Provides readers with an in-depth explanation of the rights of citizenship, including their meanings, extent and power
    • Details three key citizen rights - the right to vote, the right to employment, and the right to travel
    • Provides an in-depth explanation of key rights, two of which (employment and travel) are often not recognized as rights of American citizenship
    • Gives readers insight into how identification systems and requirements undermine rights and diminish democracy
    Read more


    • Winner, 2017 George Orwell Award, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

    Reviews & endorsements

    'I followed the stages of this book when it was in process and when it was completed for publication. At each time I saw it's importance. I was pleased to recognize that in the Foreword to the book. Now it is in hand. And current American politics make it an even more significant book for an understanding of the United States as a political and social system. The nature of Citizenship - its centrality in elections and in politics and society more generally - make it a crucial feature of American Democracy and the challenge it faces.' Sid Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, Harvard University

    'On November 8, 2016, the American electorate chooses between very different views of immigration policy, national security, the First, Second, Fourth and Fourteen Amendments, and other issues related to American citizenship and the rights and obligations flowing from that situation. Dr. Sobel makes timely and significant contributions to our understanding of the foundations and historical development of these issues. Citizenship as Foundation of Rights is an essential resource for an informed electorate, and it provides a meaningful framework for post-election analysis.' Edward Baskauskas, Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco

    'A powerful argument for the concept of citizenship and the rights associated with it.' Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'A very good, incisive, well-written study. It is well worth spending the time to read, a fine book. The research is tops, information of high value for anyone inquisitive about citizenship matters. I could acclaim it to everyone.' Edward L. Deam, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, Chicago

    'The book … gives a concise and yet comprehensive overview of the basic rights that American citizenship provides, the basic concepts that have been incorporated into law in structuring American citizenship over time, and particularly today. So anyone looking for a clear and concise understanding of how American citizenship has been, or is currently legally constructed will find this book of great value. Another of the valuable things that [this relatively brief and therefore accessible] book does is, in mapping out rights of citizenship, [is] focusing primarily … on right to vote, right to travel, and right to work. There‘s more in the book, but even bringing these three together is a valuable … contribution since they’re not all discussed as fundamental pillars of citizenship in many works. In particular, the right to travel is one that tends to have been treated as more marginal than it should have been, given its centrality in civil rights struggles in this country in particular periods, as Richard brings out.' Rogers Smith, 'Author Meets Critics', Midwest Political Science Association

    'Sobel['s] argument for empowering citizenship [is] that American citizenship is constituted in fundamentally empowering political and related rights. These rights, like … employment, travel and vote, are exercisable per force of citizenship … Sobel’s key focus is citizenship vs. the state … that there is a tenuous struggle for power between citizens that want to exercise their agency and the state which seeks to control and regulate state power … He is concerned with the acquisition of political rights with the presupposition of possessing American citizenship in order to resist authoritative practices by the state … Sobel … offers a reading of citizenship through an American context. His work will be of great interest to scholars focusing on American politics and citizenship. [He] provides a concise and cogent argument for empowering citizenship … realized by three key rights: … employment, travel and work.' James Nguyen, Citizenship Studies

    '[An] identification regime is inconsistent with … underpinnings of U.S. citizenship [as] requiring … proof of citizenship inverts the American democratic enterprise. This argument is … insightful … advances our understanding of American citizenship … [and] reinvigorates the citizenship inquiry …' D. Carolina Nidfiez, Tulsa Law Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107568037
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction. Empowering citizenship
    2. The nature of American citizenship as the foundation of rights
    3. The right to vote
    4. The right to employment
    5. The right to travel
    6. Threats to citizenship rights in identification regime
    7. Other countries' systems constitute warnings
    8. Conclusions. Sustaining empowering citizenship.

  • Author

    Richard Sobel, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Richard Sobel is a political scientist, and author and editor of eight books and numerous scholarly, law and policy articles. He graduated from Princeton University, New Jersey and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has taught at Princeton University, Smith College, Massachusetts, the University of Connecticut, Harvard University, Massachusetts and Northwestern University, Illinois. At Harvard, he has also been a Research Associate of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, fellow of the Hutchins Center, Shorenstein Center, and Berkman Center, and member of the Program in Psychiatry and Law. He is Visiting Scholar at the Buffett Institute, Northwestern University, and director of Cyber Privacy Project. He has contributed to Supreme Court amicus briefs on voting rights and identification.


    • Winner, 2017 George Orwell Award, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

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