More Equal than Others: negotiating the boundaries of citizenship

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


While citizenship is imagined as a stable status, the Windrush affair illustrates it is stable only when taken for granted. How does one prove that one is imbricated in a certain set of social and political relations? The requirement to present valid documents when demanded by state agents or members of the public such as landlords and employers, begins to undermine citizenship. The more demanding these requirements, the more it is undermined, both for the person who must prove citizenship, and the person who must demand proof. In this paper I will consider how the category of “citizen” both depends on and is undermined by the category of “migrant”, examining how both categories are unstable and located within wider inequalities. I’ll begin by exploring the complexity of the term “migrant”, arguing that it is a normative term designating a problematic mobility or presence. I’ll then consider the normative nature of citizenship, and how it marks, not simply a legal status, but also membership of a “community of value”. Importantly, citizenship also has an instrumental value, and it is a status that is far easier for wealthy non-citizens to obtain than it is for their lower-waged compatriots. For the latter, the figure of the “worker citizen” brings together the normative and the instrumental aspects of citizenship. The “worker citizen” also serves to discipline and marginalise some with the formal status of citizenship effectively making them “Tolerated Citizens”. I then discuss some ways of connecting non-citizens and “Tolerated Citizens” in practice, through attention to racism, control over the movement of the national poor, and analysing states’ temporal as well as mobility controls.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrecarity and Belonging: labor, migration and non-citizenship
PublisherRutgers University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 May 2019

Structured keywords

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


  • citizenship
  • community of value
  • European citizenship
  • immigration enforcement
  • naturlisation
  • racism
  • windrush
  • worker citizen


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