Transnational communities and citizenship full text

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Nation-state citizenship was the adequate form for a world of relatively autonomous nation-states. Such citizenship was meant to be singular and exclusive, and naturalization was seen as an exceptional and irreversible act implying loss of the original citizenship. But this model is no longer appropriate for a world in which flows are replacing places as the key loci of economic and social organization. If people move frequently between different countries, and maintain important affiliations in each of them, citizenship needs to be adapted to the new realities. In fact, this is already happening. Over the last thirty years, virtually all Western countries have changed their citizenship rules in response to immigration and settlement. In many cases this has meant a shift away from jus sanguinis (citizenship through descent), which tends to exclude immigrants and their descendants, towards more inclusive forms of citizenship based on jus soli (citizenship through birth in the territoty) and jus domicilii (citizenship on the basis of residence) (Aleinikoff and Klusmeyer, 2000; Castles and Davidson, 2000:Ch. 4).

Dual (or multiple) citizenship is a key issue for migrants, because it is the best way ofrecognizing multiple affiliations and identities. In recent years many countries have changed their laws and about half the world’s countries now recognize dual citizenship (Vertovec, 1999:455). Emigration countries do so as a way ofbinding emigrants to the home counrry because this brings benefits in the forms of remittances, technology transfer, political allegiance and cultural maintenance. Immigration countries do so as a way of improving the social integration of minorities, and preventing the linking of ethnic- ity with social disadvantage, which is at the root of ethnic conflicts and racism. This is why even former ‘guestworker’ importing countries have now changed their laws. The new German citizenship law of 1998 is a significant milestone because it represents an important move towards the jus soli principle. However, such changes are not on the agenda in more recent Asian immigration countries like Malaysia and Japan, where policymakers still believe that settlement will not take place.

Again there is an empirical deficit. Nobody seems to know how many dual citizens there are, nor what proportion of the population they make up. In Germany — a country which still officially rejects dual citizenship — there are thought to be up to two million dual citizens, In Australia there may be 3—5 million — up to a quarter ofthe population (Zappala and Castles, 2000). Overall, dual citizens are a small minority but a fast-growing one, with great potential significance. The growth of transnational communities may in the long run lead to a rethinking of the very contents of citizenship. Differentiated forms of state membership may be needed to recognize the different types of relationships transmigrants have with different states — such as political rights in one place, economic rights in another and cultural rights in a third (Baubock, 1994; Bauböck and Rundell, 1998), In practice, this already happens when immigration states create forms of quasi-citizenship’ or ‘denizenship’ (Hammar, 1 990) by granting rights with regard to residency employment or welfare to specific groups of immigrants. But such practices have developed in a piece- meal way, without much consideration of their long-term consequences for citizenship.

These debates are too complex to pursue further here. Moreover, they raise difficult questions about the future of democracy under conditions of globalization. Democratic government in modern polities focuses primarily on the nation-state. Yet more and more of the decisions that affect our lives are made at the supranational level. Global and regional governance is rapid- ly gaining in significance, yet transnational democratic institutions hardly exist — with a few limited exceptions such as the European Union. In the future, then, we need to think about the transnational form of democratic participation — not just for members of transnational communities, but for all citizens affected by the rapid shift in the location of political power.