ASTK15344U Course: The Politics of Citenzenship in a Transnational Age: Theories and Key Issues

Volume 2015/2016

Elective in the Specialisation "Political Theory"

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS
Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


How do we understand the concept of citizenship in a world increasingly characterized by transnational flows and multiple identities? From ancient empires to the modern system of nation-states, this fundamental concept in our understanding of politics has always involved puzzling contradictions such as that between inclusion and exclusion; between particularity and universality; and between ‘the political’ and ‘the international’. The problems resulted from these contradictions have become more pronounced than ever, as the boundaries of our political community today are influenced by various processes of de-bordering and re-bordering: among them are international migration, regional integration, transnational social movement and so forth. Do these transformations bring us closer to or further away from the egalitarian and inclusive ideals of being a ‘citizen’? This course will introduce classic theoretical accounts of citizenship, and also explore alternative approaches that challenge our conventional understanding of rights, identity and boundaries. Furthermore, we will focus on some key contemporary topics that have been widely debated over in citizenship studies and beyond: the nexus of citizenship and migration; the idea and practice of EU or European citizenship; and urban citizenship.

The course is expected to be structured under the following weekly headings:

  1. Introduction

Part I  Theoretical Perspectives

  1. Rights and practice: liberalism and republicanism on citizenship
  2. Identity and humanity: communitarian and cosmopolitan conceptions of citizenship
  3. Citizenship and the nation-state: assessing national models
  4. Alternative approach I: differentiation and governmentality
  5. Alternative approach II: contestation and ‘acts of citizenship’

Part II Challenges/Debates


  1. Figures of non-citizens
  2. The normative question: who to decide the boundary of the demos?
  3. Staging the undocumented politically

European citizenship

  1. How innovative is EU citizenship? History and legal framework
  2. Introducing the debate: interpretations and critiques

Urban citizenship

  1. The city and the citizen
  2. Struggles for the ‘right to the city’ in non-Western society


  1. Summary
Learning Outcome

On completion of the course, students should be able to a) present and compare the main theoretical perspectives on citizenship in liberal political theory; b) demonstrate a good knowledge of alternative approaches developed in critical citizenship studies, including their strength and weakness; c) relate discussions about citizenship to other key concepts in political theory such as sovereignty, democracy and borders; d) discuss contemporary topics related to citizenship with theoretical and historical consideration.

A detailed list of required readings will be provided at the start of the course. The following is an indicative list of core readings.

Balibar, É. (2004). We, the people of Europe? reflections on transnational citizenship. Princeton University Press.

Bosniak, L. (2006). The citizen and the alien : dilemmas of contemporary membership. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Brubaker, R. (1992). Citizenship and nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Diez, T., & Squire, V. (2008). Traditions of citizenship and the securitisation of migration in Germany and Britain. Citizenship Studies, 12(6), 565–581.

Habermas, J. (1994). Citizenship and national identity. In B. van Steenbergen (Ed.), The Condition of Citizenship (pp. 20–35). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hutchings, K., & Dannreuther, R. (Eds.). (1999). Cosmopolitan citizenship. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Nyers, P., & Rygiel, K. (2012). Citizenship, migrant activism and the politics of movement. London: Routledge.

Isin, E. F., & Nielsen, G. M. (2008). Acts of citizenship. London: Zed Books Ltd.

Joppke, C. (2010). Citizenship and immigration. Cambridge: Polity.

Kymlicka, W., & Norman, W. (1994). Return of the citizen: A survey of recent work on citizenship theory. Ethics, 104, 352–381.

Marshall, T. (1992). Citizenship and social class. London: Pluto Press.

McNevin, A. (2009). Contesting Citizenship: Irregular Migrants and Strategic Possibilities for Political Belonging. New Political Science, 31(2), 163–181.

Nyers, P., & Isin, E. F. (2014). Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Shachar, A. (2009). The birthright lottery: citizenship and global inequality. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Schierup, C.-U., Hansen, P., & Castles, S. (2006). Migration, Citizenship, and the European Welfare State: A European Dilemma. Oxford University Press.

Turner, B. S. (1993). Citizenship and social theory. London: SAGE Publications.

BA in political science/IR (exceptions tolerated).
The course will combine various types of instruction including lectures, student presentations, film screening, group discussions and written assignments.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 98
  • Exam
  • 10
  • Exam Preparation
  • 30
  • Exercises
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 30
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner