Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

The Dialectics of Citizenship: Exploring Privilege, Exclusion, and Racialization

Bernd Reiter
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 200
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Dialectics of Citizenship
    Book Description:

    What does it mean to be a citizen? What impact does an active democracy have on its citizenry and why does it fail or succeed in fulfilling its promises? Most modern democracies seem unable to deliver the goods that citizens expect; many politicians seem to have given up on representing the wants and needs of those who elected them and are keener on representing themselves and their financial backers. What will it take to bring democracy back to its original promise of rule by the people? Bernd Reiter's timely analysis reaches back to ancient Greece and the Roman Republic in search of answers. It examines the European medieval city republics, revolutionary France, and contemporary Brazil, Portugal, and Colombia. Through an innovative exploration of country cases, this study demonstrates that those who stand to lose something from true democracy tend to oppose it, making the genealogy of citizenship concurrent with that of exclusion. More often than not, exclusion leads to racialization, stigmatizing the excluded to justify their non-membership. Each case allows for different insights into the process of how citizenship is upheld and challenged. Together, the cases reveal how exclusive rights are constituted by contrasting members to non-members who in that very process become racialized others. The book provides an opportunity to understand the dynamics that weaken democracy so that they can be successfully addressed and overcome in the future.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-351-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-x)

    This book grows out of, and indeed connects to, previous efforts (Reiter 2009; Nef and Reiter 2009). Its realization would have been impossible without the support I have received from the Desigualdades Network of the Free University of Berlin. I am very grateful for the support they have given me and want to express my sincere thanks, especially to Prof. Sergio Costa. My time in Berlin and the dialogues I had with fellows, students, postdocs, and faculty have proven invaluable and allowed me to push my thoughts forward in significant ways. I am also indebted and very grateful for the...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    The central theme of this book is autonomy and self-rule. It focuses on those sites, historical and geographical, where people have taken up the banner of self-rule and established democratic systems. As soon as they have done so—and this is the thread weaving together the different stories here told—they had to face the adversary of those who had something to lose, namely, their own power and their privileges. At the same time that this book tells the story of autonomy and self-rule, it also tells the story of the defense of privilege, of exclusion and second-class citizenship, because...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Epistemology and Methodology of Exploratory Social Science Research: Crossing Popper with Marcuse
    (pp. 1-22)

    This chapter seeks to propose a rationale for exploratory research in the social sciences. Inspired by the recent debates around qualitative methods (Gerring 2001; George and Bennett 2005; Brady and Collier 2004; Mahoney and Rueschemeyer 2003; Ragin 2008, to name just a few), I seek to demonstrate that exploratory research also has a rightful place within the social sciences. In order to live up to its potential, exploratory research needs to be conducted in a transparent, honest, and self-reflexive way—and follow a set of guidelines that ensure its reliability. Exploratory research, if conducted in such a way, can achieve...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Conceptualizing Citizenship: Disjunctive, Dual, Divided, Entangled, or What?
    (pp. 23-42)

    In his seminal work onCitizenship and Social Class, T. H. Marshall ([1950] 1992) argued that in Europe, civil rights preceded political rights, and once both these rights were achieved, social rights would follow. Marshall predicted that the twentieth century would see an expansion of social rights, which he defined as “the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in society. The institutions most closely connected with it...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Classical Citizenship: The Political and the Social
    (pp. 43-66)

    This chapter focuses on classical citizenship as practiced and experienced in Athens and the Roman Republic. To do so, for a political scientist, is to venture onto thin ice, as I have to rely almost entirely on secondary sources and a few translated primary sources. The chapter is, however, a necessary part of this book, as it allows me to add a historical dimension to the problem of democracy, citizenship, and exclusion. Exclusion from citizenship, as well as the establishment of second-class citizenship as a contrast to full, or first-class citizenship, is not new, as this chapter will show. It...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Medieval European Citizenship: Christian Rights and Jewish Duties
    (pp. 67-82)

    It would certainly be wrong to say that democracy succumbed after the collapse of the Roman Republic. The problem is rather one of historical sources—and the lack thereof. Democratic experiments in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or the Pacific region are simply not as well documented to base an analysis of the dialectics of citizenship on them.¹ The history of medieval European city-states, however, provides a rich case of analysis within the context of this book, as it allows for a highlighting of the advances of democratic self-rule on one side, and the contrasting exclusion from these city-states on...

  9. CHAPTER 5 France: Liberalism Unveiled
    (pp. 83-98)

    France is a crucial case in this study. France presents itself—and is widely imaged—as being the next step from, or the natural continuation of, the ancient Greek invention of democracy. France thus is important historically. It is, however, also important conceptually, as France to this day stands out as a nation that has held onto the liberal republican traditions that motivated the French Revolution. The Fifth Republic still is a place where special rights and associations, and the privileges that such association could represent, are actively undermined. The unitarian French state only recognizes individual citizens and is weary...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Postcolonial Within: Portugal, White and European
    (pp. 99-112)

    In this chapter, I analyze Portugal’s negotiations around the issues of citizenship, belonging, and rights. Portugal, again, is a very telling and crucial case. It represents several empirical/historical phenomena. For one thing, as a European Union member, Portugal is a typical European case. Given Portugal’s fairly recent admission to the EU and its position at the margin, geographically as well as in terms of importance and influence, an analysis of Portugal allows us to untwine the rather complex issues involved in joining the “Fortress Europe” (Gordon 1982). But Portugal as a case has more to offer. Due to its long...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Brazil: Experts in Exclusion
    (pp. 113-132)

    This chapter focuses on yet another illustrative case: Brazil. As I have done before, I present each case to highlight one particular aspect of the dialectics of citizenship. In this chapter, the main focus is “how exclusion works.” I have chosen Brazil as an example to explain how exclusion works not because Brazil is peculiar in this respect. To the contrary, Brazil is typical. The ways in which exclusion is produced and reproduced there are repeated elsewhere in the same, or very similar, ways. Thus, Brazil is a “case” introduced to unveil and highlight the causal mechanisms that typically are...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Colombia: When Law and Reality Clash
    (pp. 133-150)

    In 1991, the Colombian state declared itself a multiethnic and pluricultural nation. The new constitution also included Article 55, an affirmative action law for ethnic minorities. Law 70 of 1993, known as the Law of the Black Communities, soon followed, giving Afro-Colombian communities in the Pacific coastal areas the right to collectively own and control their ancestral lands.¹

    The new national legislation made it easier to enhance the relationship between Afro-Colombian organizations and the state. For most Afro-Colombian leaders, their historical claims for recognition as a marginalized minority group were officially validated when the state gave them the right to...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Conclusion: Learning from Exploratory Research
    (pp. 151-164)

    The empirical cases explored above, analyzed under the framework of what they can each tell us about the different aspects and dimensions and the internal contradictions, or dialectics, of citizenship, have fleshed out several insights that allow me to summarize some “lessons learned” in this chapter.

    The first insight is about dialectics. So far, thinking about inherent contradictions and unresolved tensions of citizenship has proven fruitful. Not just because such a way of thinking is inherently dynamic and allows us to focus on processes rather than stasis. Given that the social world is in constant flux, such a way of...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 165-174)
  15. References
    (pp. 175-194)
  16. Index
    (pp. 195-196)