English title: Comparative Citizenship: An Agenda for Cross-National Research

Author(s): Marc Morjé Howard -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2006


In this article, I attempt to integrate the study of citizenship into debates in comparative politics, in two different ways. First, I justify the real-world importance of the topic, and thereby encourage other scholars to grapple with its manifestations and implications. Second, I present some suggestive evidence, based on the 15 “older” countries of the European Union (EU). The findings not only illustrate the extent of cross-national variation in citizenship policies at two different time periods, but they help to demonstrate the applicability of comparative analysis to categorizing and explaining both long-lasting cross-national differences and more recent change in some countries. In explaining the historical variation within the EU, I consider whether or not a country had a prior experience as a colonial power, as well as whether it became a democracy in the nineteenth century. In accounting for continuity or change over the last few decades, I argue that while various international and domestic pressures have led to liberalization in a number of countries, these usually occurred in the absence of public discussion and involvement. In contrast, when public opinion gets mobilized and engaged on issues related to citizenship reform—usually by a well-organized far right party, but also sometimes by a referendum or petition campaign—liberalization is usually blocked, or further restrictions are introduced. This finding raises important, paradoxical, and troubling questions about the connection between democratic processes and liberal outcomes.

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

From page no: 443

To page no: 455

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1017/S1537592706060294

Journal: Perspectives on Politics