Status Non-Citizens

chapter in: The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship Studies (ed. Shachar, Baubock, Bloemraad, Vink) Oxford University Press, 2017

23 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2017  

Linda S. Bosniak

Rutgers University School of Law

Date Written: January 30, 2017


This chapter (written in 2016) addresses the condition of persons inhabiting so-called liberal democratic political communities in which they lack the legal status of citizenship. It seeks to distill a profile of the status non-citizen in broad terms, notwithstanding the great variations among categories and across states. The chapter’s focus, however, is equally theoretical. It is motivated by the questions: What is status non-citizenship, and how are we to understand the relationship between lack of citizenship in the status sense and other modes of non-citizenship, or non-possession of (full) citizenship?

Status non-citizenship is both product and precondition of the operation of state borders. Millions of people designated as status non-citizens under state border rules reside within the territory of self-described liberal democratic states in a variety of situations. Once inside, status non-citizens remain governed by the regime of state border control as it is internally applied and enforced. And yet, that regime shares jurisdictional space with another set of internal norms—basic liberal democratic norms which, in formal terms, deem the treatment of persons as less- than- full-members to be unjust. Significantly, these latter, ethically universalist norms are often articulated via the language of ‘citizenship.’ The experiences of territorially present status non-citizens are, in consequence, produced conjointly by these overlapping but often dissonant governing logics. At times, these logics concord without great event. At others, the tensions between citizenship’s borderism and its egalitarianism are fraught and unremitting.

Keywords: citizenship, alienage, equality, oppression, political concept, borders, jurisdiction

Suggested Citation

Bosniak, Linda S., Status Non-Citizens (January 30, 2017). chapter in: The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship Studies (ed. Shachar, Baubock, Bloemraad, Vink) Oxford University Press, 2017. Available at SSRN:

Linda S. Bosniak (Contact Author)

Rutgers University School of Law ( email )

Fifth and Penn Streets
Camden, NJ 08102
United States
856-225-6403 (Phone)
856-225-6516 (Fax)

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