The Equality Puzzles of Plural Citizenship

Peter J. Spiro

Tuesday, March 8th 2016
10:45-12:00 Keynote Speaker

Plural citizenship has become a stealth incident of globalization. Historically deplored as immoral, it is now a commonplace. Its rise poses profound questions relating to membership and the future of the state. In some states (the United States, for example), the rise of plural citizenship has gone largely unnoticed and unopposed. In others, it has been vigorously contested. Much of this opposition comes from conservative nationalistic elements and has been framed in old world terms, in which dual citizens are attacked for harboring dual loyalties. But plural citizenship also makes many liberal theorists uncomfortable. On the one hand, accepting plural citizenship vindicates autonomy values. On the other hand, it challenges equality norms. This paper would explore these equality concerns. As a sociological matter, plural citizenship is unlikely to create substantial inequalities in states whose passports enjoy premium status. Additional citizenships for citizens of the global North may result in marginal advantage but will not result in discontinuous life chances. But in the South, the rise of plural citizenship may create a new axis of haves and have-nots. Those who can avail themselves fully of developed economies as citizens while remaining connected to their countries of origin (in Baubock’s “constellations of citizenship”) will enjoy major advantages over their mono-national homeland counterparts. This objection needs to be taken seriously. ut it’s not clear that anything can be one to compensate for plural citizenship as a source of inequality. Efforts to police the status will result in other inequalities, either by deterring naturalization by emigrants in their new states of residence or depriving diaspora members of rights in their homeland polities. A better strategy to address the inequalities of dual citizenship would be to further interrogate and dilute the advantages of citizenship itself.

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