Trevor Stack

Citizenship, as particular tradition of political community, typically has two dimensions:

  • formal dimension: usually, how citizenship and attendant obligations are defined in some kind of law

> usually obvious example of political community: what set out formally is people’s relationship to institutions – some kind of governing body

  • onto-ethical dimension: by which I mean, people will typically say that citizenship involves more than just how defined in law

> comprises some kind of broader set of commitments to others

Though this onto-ethical dimension may seem non- or less political, argue that best understood as dimension of political community that constituted by citizenship

i.e. does concern and affect way in which relate to structures of authority, even if goes beyond relationship as formally defined

If citizenship is particular tradition of political community, there are particular traditions of citizenship

  • not surprisingly, relationship between formal and onto-ethical dimensions varies considerably
  • this has effect on shape of political community – that is, particular relationship with structures of authority

Gives example of Mexico where did ethnographic fieldwork in 2007 and 2010.

  • interviews which began with question “what does it mean to you…”
  • combined with case studies in which looking for echoes in practice

e.g. following dispute between street traders and city government

Surprised by their responses to questions about citizenship

  • social science uses term “citizenship” for relationship with governments
  • informants often reply “in the eyes of the law” but ultimately “living in society”

Structure of reply is typical of citizenship tradition of political community that outlined

  • TS is not calling “citizenship” just because they used term gave in response to interview questions about citizenship, but because they replied in way that consonant with broader citizenship tradition
  • though at time seemed surprising, now realize that typical in combining
    • formal dimension: how citizenship is defined in law
    • onto-ethical: citizenship was ultimately about “living in society”

But though typical, Mexican case is distinctive

  • on one hand, when said citizenship defined in law, meaning
    • in terms of nation about which several sceptical
    • many more sceptical about law that did defining, which helps to explain why insist that though citizenship is defined in law, it is ultimately about living in society…
    • …which is also distinctive, as onto-ethical dimension, in that society means something like
      • matrix of dense and inescapable inter-dependencies
      • which give rise less to voluntary associations than involuntary obligations (in contrast to US voluntarism)
      • and which serves to contain the wayward will of fallen Man

What shape of political community emerges from citizenship which can be defined in law – though informants skeptical of it – and which ultimately about living in society, understood as matrix that serves to contain wayward will of fallen Man?

  • could still bolster formal structures of authority, e.g. by motivating people to participate in ways consonant with those structures, such as by voting
  • could equally provide ground for relationship with structures other than those formally-constituted, e.g. with Catholic Church
  • could also provide alternative ground for relationship with formally-constituted structures

e.g. when asked about government or autoridad, told that

– was needed because living in sociedad inevitably produced differences and required organization

– but at same time, government always at risk of “losing ground” in sociedad

> often heard people complain of those who “lose their ground”

Sian Lazar

Interested in village level of Aristotle’s model which also reflects limits of ethnographic methodology

> even if don’t agree that trade union is political community, some aspects of unions can be understood in those terms

Focus on 2 trade unions of state employees in Argentina (therefore in some sense their own employers as Argentinean state)

ATE: roots in anarcho-syndicalism

UPCN: Peronista union of state employees

Educational programmes linked to contrasting traditions: promote different ideas of democracy and community

UPCN (traditional, officialist, wealthier): one of themes of plenary session was organisation itself – training in how to be delegate


  • verticalist (pyramidal) organisation in which
    • base gets information and autonomy to enact tactics as wish
    • middle gets opinion (once earned right)
    • leaders at top of pyramid make decisions
    • enormous amount of debating but
      • kept internal (Peron: like cats – when outsiders think they are fighting, actually reproducing ourselves)
      • only when suits – leaders decide to keep X issue open

..difference between ATE and UPCN in terms of political communities

  • UPCN: democracy of participation in action but not discussion
  • ATE: focus on discussion, debate, dissent > sovereignty lies in workers assembly

In both unions, members participate and are subject to decisions as well as sovereignty > can be expelled from union (though they will deny it)


Hanna Lerner: for TS

  • difference between citizenship as political theorist and what I found in Mexico > TS focuses on obligations and subjecting to authority etc. but nothing about rights in spite of Marshall i.e. what they get from the state
  • not sure what mean by living in society: in contrast to formal rights, is this about belonging to identity group etc.?

Matyas Bodig

  • for SL: doesn’t mind people using political community in other contexts e.g. for unions
  • for TS: argues that citizenship comes with obligations and rights > powerful sense of entitlement in early modern cities in Hungary e.g. punishing those not wearing proper clothes
    • though subjective rights is recent, objective right has long presence in citizenship: goes back to Spartans feeling that there are things citizens can do that others can’t

> TS: when defining citizenship tradition, forgot to say that it entails a community that is not only political but also civil in the sense that its members have certain “freedoms” from which rights are later derived, so rights are indeed essential to the citizenship tradition

Bernd Wannenwetsch: for TS

  • 2 dimensions of citizenship may go back to Aristotle who
    • defines as capacity to take office in polis > status
    • distinguishes from internal posture toward polis – to separate these two would nihilise idea of citizenship
    • for example
      • most early Christians not of citizen status but in church assumed that full citizen status of polity of God’s kingdom: would pray for common good of those in authority and assume that this was contribution to common good, thus acting out citizenship without being granted legal status
      • history rewards when Emperor Caius makes deal with Christians such that keep on praying for political leaders in return for certain rights

> TS: people can be included on the ground of sociedad even if excluded on ground of law, e.g. foreigners who have close interaction with local communities

John P for TS: he is clear on legal part of definition but struggling to identify other part of citizenship – how about passions such as patriotism? is this intentionally missing from project?

> TS: patriotism is important but informants often made fun of it; the passions are responsible for the wayward will going astray

Nigel Dower for TS: general feature of ethical thinking: one thing to act in accordance with basic value, another thing to be committed to promoting it in certain ways, such as by actively promoting peace or justice (Rawls) > is this active dimension that TS is identifying?

> TS: not sure

Sian Lazar for TS

  • recognizes sociedad as what Bolivians call convivencia, going beyond responsibilities that correlatives of rights
  • also agrees that social science makes too much of rights

> TS: interested to hear that similar concept in Bolivia

Raul Acosta for TS: how much is living in society linked to urban model of colonisation that Spanish brought to the Americas?

> TS: sociedad means something very like what was called policía in colonial times

Ajay Gudavarthy for TS

  • Bikhu Parekh distinguish between citizenship as moral agenda (horizontal) and legal agency in relation so state (vertical)
  • Nestor Garcia Canclini: citizens as consumers in context of withdrawl of state >> horizontal relation made possible with market
  • human society could be replacement for law: society as moral regulation > this is law at level of social

Ionut Untea for TS: newcomers in society may have formal citizenship but not ontological dimension

> TS: this is interesting corollary

Gal Levy for TS: people in his study in Israel not using concept of rights but instead of nationalism: terms of being and not just of belonging, making claim in certain political order

Chris Brittain for TS

  • not sure why talking about citizenship in terms of community e.g. he lives here in Scotland but he is not a citizen
  • “living in society” seems teleological: can be complement to formal but not substitute for it – by focusing on informal, danger of missing import of access to nation-state through rights

Marek Szilvasi: to what extent is informal citizenship a version of active citizenship? in neoliberal age, people start making demands of one another rather than of state

> TS: neoliberalism plays with older onto-ethical expectations, yes

Silvia Pasquetti

Comparing Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in Israeli city Lod, and Palestinian refugees in Jalazon (West Bank)

  • 1948 expulsion from Lod > Jalazon camp
  • Since 1967 both under Israeli rule: as minority citizens (Lod) and as stateless subjects (Jalazon)


  • Lod: access to resource through individualized problem-solving activities vs. Jalazon: through collective forms of politics
  • political meanings attached to informal and illegal economies
  • search for dignity through personal involvement (in search for moral community)

How and why do Palestinians in Lod discard political community while in Jalazon see as main tool for survival?

  • vertical ties with ruling agencies are different
    • individualizing logic (security agencies – informers etc. and division into hostile and friendly)
    • collectivizing logic in Jalazon (repressive army creates collective experience of suffering vs. UNRWA as symbolic capital, operating as buffer institution – legitimizes refugees creation of communal institutions within camp)
    • horizontal ties: contrasts mutual distrust in Lod and group solidarity in Jalazon

In Lod

Quote from young Pales man in Lod: complains that there if hear speaking about camp in political terms police will come

> finds less fear in Jalazon than in Lod

Unemployed man in Lod denied license to sell informally: Majid said would need to become informer to get license – mechanism that used to obtain rewards

In Jalazon

Many divisions according to family, politics, belonging etc. but heavy investment in

  • group solidarity
  • UNRWA: shows banner in which demanding that UNRWA should respect their rights and fulfil its responsibilities toward them

Drug dealing etc. regarded as political issue rather than criminal


Matyas Bodig: how does UNRWA relate to Palestinian Authority?

> SP: refugees reluctant to use language of citizenship in relation to PA, not least because emotionally invested in UNRWA, because UNRWA has bureaucratic apparatus, and because support of PA can seem political

Luisa Gandolfo: role of collective memory in membership (works in Jordan)

Ajay Gudavarthy: law operates through binary of legal and illegal > doesn’t have space for idea of politics: how can politics re-enter?

> SP: people do attach political meanings to criminal activity (refers to Hip Hop Theory of Justice)

Paul Tamuno: how to define stateless and minority? what is status of stateless in international law?

Nigel Dower: how far is the politicized logic of camp a function of it being a refugee camp, and how far is it a function of the character of UNWRA (which says won’t arrest you if say X in spite of army)?

> SP: in refugee camp may develop group solidarity but probably hard to maintain – access to material and symbolic resources of UNWRA is what is key (though also space for people to criticize it)

Anna Grudzinska: in Poland, obligatory to undermine law under Germans and under Communists, such that still long political tradition

  • now significant problem with Constitution and how to socialise people into obeying law
  • also explains why citizenship understood as identity rather than as legal framework

Sourayan Mookerjea: how gender plays out in this context? is this solidarity egalitarian? group solidarity often comes at cost of other issues, especially place of women

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