The Fluid, Multi-Scalar, and Contradictory Construction of Citizenship

Luis Eduardo Guarnizo
Published in
Comparative Urban and Community Research

Citizenship has existed for nearly three millennia. Throughout its long history, it has been the main institution regulating membership in political communities and has provided the philosophical rationale and quotidian structure for the sociopolitical organization of societies and legitimate systems of governance. In the twentieth century, the age of the nation-state, citizenship became the institutional building block of national membership and international relations. By the early twenty-first century, however, the everyday practices, as well as theoretical and legal meanings of citizenship had experienced considerable transformations. Most scholarly research has concluded that these changes have in great part been fueled by an anintricate and intertwined host of global processes ranging from the hyper-mobility of capital and people to the introduction and use of universal rights, to the expansion of transnational grassroots networks. Ensuring academic debates on the implications of citizenship transformation have generated the emergence of multiple new types of citizenship, which are often used to represent contemporary changes. Urban, international, transnational, cosmopolitan, nested, global, and environmental are among the copious types of new citizenships recently coined by social scientists.