'Do I Really Want to be Integrated into a Burning House?' Claiming Citizenship and Proclaiming America's Virtues
45 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 24, 2019
A new survey shows that legal citizenship in the United States is neither necessary nor sufficient for subjective citizenship, defined as agreement that “I am a full and equal citizen.” This paper examines that discrepancy. We theorize that the claim to American citizenship involves three aspirational assertions: citizens have the right to equal status and political standing, the US grants its citizens equal status, and the US grants its citizens political standing. Identity as a citizen varies in accord with location in hierarchies such as race or ethnicity, class, and gender, as well as by beliefs about whether the US fulfills promises of political standing and social equality. Subjective citizenship predicts political participation, and vote choice. In short, residents of the United States do not want to be integrated into a burning house, but they do claim full and equal citizenship, and vote accordingly if they believe the political house to be worthy of allegiance.
Keywords: citizenship, public opinion, race and class, political ideals
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