From Sacred to Instrumental: The Changing Meaning of Citizenship

In recent years, scholars have argued that citizenship in Western countries is becoming an instrumental resource, even a commodity.Those arguments mostly draw on a relatively narrow set of empirical cases, focusing on outsiders who seek admission into citizenship. Moreover, there is no systematic theory that explains the relationship between rules of admission and the emotional meaning of citizenship. This paper expands the empirical and theoretical scope of this literature by examining the effect of citizenship transformations on individuals who are already citizens of a country and their changing relation to the state. It focuses on 3 areas of change: 1) diminishing weight of citizen duties, reflected mostly in the elimination of conscription; 2) growing toleration of multiple citizenship; 3) growing diversity in terms of ethnicity and place of residence.I will discuss the potential implications of these developments while drawing on insights from psychology and economic sociology.