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

Local Citizenship in a Global Age: How Cities are Changing What it Means to be a Citizen (Part III) Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

90 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2019

See all articles by Kenneth Stahl

Kenneth Stahl

Chapman University - The Dale Fowler School of Law

Date Written: July 9, 2019


This is Part 3 of 3. Part I was previously posted at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3385067, and Part II was posted at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411862.

The book's first two parts argued that local citizenship is predominantly viewed by courts and policymakers as "liberal" in nature, meaning that is is a product of individual market choice and mobility. One becomes a local citizen by choosing a municipality in which to reside, unlike national citizenship, which is determined by birth and lineage rather than choice.

As this Part describes, however, cities have not passively accepted their fate as sites of liberal citizenship. In recent years, for example, cities have attempted to regulate the financial institutions that caused the global recession of 2008, banned big box stores that threaten local businesses, enacted local hiring mandates, joined with other cities to enact climate change legislation, created community economic development programs to ensure capital investment in neighborhoods often overlooked by global capital, enacted rent control or condominium conversion legislation to protect traditionally disinvested neighborhoods against a flood of investment that may disrupt those communities and displace residents, and more. In enacting these sorts of policies, cities are advancing an idea of citizens not as mobile consumers but as people deeply embedded in particular places and shielded by their membership within those places against the vagaries of global economic markets and institutional racism. And these cities embrace a vision of citizenship in which citizens enjoy economic and cultural rights as a community, not just the individual political or social rights that liberalism confers.

This Part discusses three distinct models of place-based local citizenship that all attempt, in different ways, to resist the liberal idea of local citizenship unmoored from place. These are the republican, postmodern, and differentiated citizenship models. The advocates of republican citizenship, seeing a robust sense of community rooted in place diminished by the homogenizing pressures of space and globalization, have attempted to revitalize the face-to-face connections of a community of meaning by building walls to insulate the community against the outside world. Postmodernist citizenship, by contrast, has sought to embrace the enhanced freedom engagement promises by rejecting borders, finding meaning and a deepened appreciation for place in the connections that globalization creates among people. Finally, differentiated citizenship advocates for inclusion without differentiation, a city defined by engagement among strangers that also offers security and recognition for the thick groups in which people find themselves embedded.

In a conclusion, I argue that these theories all fail because attempting to excise liberalism from local citizenship is futile. Cities were built on commerce, and commerce is as much in the lifeblood of cities as politics is. But liberalism has never been only about commerce. It is also about equality. Because of its commitment to equality, liberalism has had a far better track record in advancing human freedom than any of its competitors. And as globalization has advanced, we may have gone too far down the path of liberalism to turn back. Embracing liberalism, while also committing to reforming it, will enable us to harness the best of local citizenship’s historical legacy for a future in which the fate of citizenship and the nation-state are still uncertain.

Keywords: globalization, citizenship, local government, local citizenship, urban citizenship, citizenship federalism, urban geography, legal geographies, space and place, community economic development, gentrification

Suggested Citation

Stahl, Kenneth, Local Citizenship in a Global Age: How Cities are Changing What it Means to be a Citizen (Part III) (July 9, 2019). Local Citizenship in a Global Age: How Cities are Changing What it Means to be a Citizen (Part III) Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3417266

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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