Local Citizenship in a Global Age: How Cities are Changing What It Means to be a Citizen (Part II)

Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

108 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kenneth Stahl

Kenneth Stahl

Chapman University - The Dale Fowler School of Law

Date Written: June 28, 2019


This is Part 2 of 3. Part I was previously posted at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3385067.

This Part discusses three case studies that illustrate the distinction described in Part I between local and federal citizenship: women, noncitizen residents, and landowners. These groups have all at some time had the status of “noncitizen citizens,” to use Linda Bosniak’s apt term. Specifically, they have been treated as citizens at the local level but not at the federal level. In each case, the republican, ethno-nationalist, and liberal conceptions of citizenship, described in Part I, have been reconciled by using the public/private distinction to simultaneously maintain two overlapping forms of citizenship: a local citizenship that is private and liberal alongside a federal citizenship that is public, republican, and ethno-nationalist. In articulating the contours of local citizenship, courts and advocates have frequently emphasized the ways in which local and federal citizenship are distinctive and complementary.

Each case study described in chapters 4 through 6 demonstrates the promises and perils of conceptualizing local citizenship in liberal terms, and also reveals the seeds of an eventual conflict between local and federal citizenship. On one hand, liberalism has allowed and often required local governments to embrace a vision of citizenship that is cosmopolitan, welcoming, and open to the world, and therefore offers a possible antidote to the xenophobia and provincialism now affecting our national politics. On the other hand, it has also truncated the local sphere to consumption and market participation, eschewing the robust tradition stretching back to the ancient Greeks in which cities served as hubs of civic activity. As Chapter 7 then describes, the double-edged nature of local citizenship has become starkly evident during our era of globalization, causing local and federal citizenship to clash. As globalization has weakened the public/private distinction, the liberal conception of citizenship that long prevailed at the local level now threatens to invade the sphere of federal citizenship, which increasingly comes to be defined by consumption and mobility. The sense that an affective and primordial conception of citizenship is now being corrupted causes a reinvigorated ethno-nationalism to emerge, with its sights set firmly on the local as the agent of that corruption.

Keywords: Globalization, citizenship, local government, local citizenship, urban citizenship, citizenship federalism, immigration, immigration federalism

Suggested Citation

Stahl, Kenneth, Local Citizenship in a Global Age: How Cities are Changing What It Means to be a Citizen (Part II) (June 28, 2019). Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411862

Kenneth Stahl (Contact Author)

Chapman University - The Dale Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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