Skip to content

A Brave New British Citizenry? Reconceptualising the Acquisition of British Citizenship by Children

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Law, Politics and Society
EditorsAustin Sarat
Publisher or commissioning bodyEmerald
ISBN (Electronic)9781787562097, 9781787562073
ISBN (Print)9781787562080
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Nov 2016
DatePublished (current) - 29 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Law, Politics and Society
ISSN (Print)1059-4337


This article identifies children’s rights as a neglected area in citizenship literature; both in socio-legal scholarship, and in British nationality case law. It analyses reasons for this neglect and posits that there exists a dichotomy in approaches to the wellbeing of children in the UK. The characterisation of children’s interests and subsequent obligations owed by states to children are different in nationality law from other areas of law, notably, family law. Through our case study of the registration of children as British citizens, we argue that in the UK formal legal membership may appear achievable ‘in the books’ but remains elusive in ‘law in action’. Children’s interests should be just as central to citizenship studies and nationality case law as to family law cases. A new approach to acquisition of British citizenship by children, with the best interests of the child as a critical evaluative principle at the heart of decision-making, will usher in a new era. In the absence of such reconceptualization, children remain passive subjects of nationality law, and their voices are unheard in processes of acquisition of citizenship.

    Research areas

  • Citizenship, nationality, registration, children, immigration, migrant



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available via Emerald . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 545 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 24/07/20

    Request copy

    Licence: Unspecified


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups