Spheres of Citizenship

Yishai Blank


The Article argues that, contrary to its state-centered conception, citizenship is determined, managed and controlled in three distinct yet intertwined territorial spheres: the local, the national and the global. Without claiming that the national sphere is vanishing or becoming irrelevant for the determination of rights, duties, group belonging and participation in public life (all different aspects of citizenship), I argue that sub-national territorial units as well as supranational political organizations are increasingly impacting citizenship. All three spheres take part in deciding who shall be entitled to various rights (political, social and economic), what shall be the exact content of those rights, and who shall have the power to make such determinations. Yet each sphere bases its citizenship on a distinct logic and on a different set of assumptions and justifications: the local on residency; the national on lineage or place of birth; and the global on belonging to humanity. The Article demonstrates the ways in which citizenship is impacted by the three spheres and the different forms of legitimation that each sphere enjoys. The realization that our citizenship is a product of developments and activities in all three levels has theoretical, analytical and practical implications.

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