Identities, Affiliations, and Allegiances

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She shows how borders can be softened by recognizing allegiances to overlapping polities, including those that stretch across the boundaries of existing nation-states, and by facilitating different kinds of participation based on functional interdependencies, intersecting interests, and multiple attachments. Indeed, basic features of public trust and the rule of law have been sufficiently lacking that these countries have been plagued by crime, illegal trade and trafficking, strained budgets, and increasing gaps between rich and poor.

The alternative that Mostov proposes working toward would be focused more on state functions than state borders, and would involve the search for regional strategies for building institutional capacities and softening national borders. It appeals to a relational, rather than a jurisdictional, understanding of sovereignty. In chapter 7 Riva Kastoryano identifies a new type of nationalism, transnational nationalism, which she sees developing most clearly among Muslim immigrants in the European Union.

Transnational nationalism, according to Kastoryano, is expressed and developed beyond and outside the borders of the state and its territory. The various forms of communities and networks created by the Muslim immigrants in Europe highlight, for her, the emergence of a distinct transnational community on a European level. Its members have settled in different national societies, but they share common national, ethnic, religious, and linguistic points of reference and they identify with common interests that straddle national boundaries.

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She also suggests that this deterritorialized nationalism may become a critical new source of tensions between states and communities. Whereas the chapters in part II are concerned with strategies for multiplying and pluralizing the allegiances that have traditionally been attached to national political institutions, in part III the focus shifts to a different though related agenda: dissociating citizenship from national political identities.

The authors all explore variants of the proposition that it may be possible to decouple citizenship from identity without any cost to democratic politics.

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Hayward considers recent efforts to reconcile these principles, focusing on theories that analyze democratic citizenship through the lens of the contemporary city. Hayward evaluates this provocative thesis and finds it wanting. She points out that it rests on various implausible empirical assumptions, and that it assumes, no more plausibly, that citizenship can bind people together without imposing arbitrary civic boundaries on them. The tension Hayward identifies is a good deal harder to resolve than these scholars of urban politics have contended.

Their empirical study examines variations in the degree of immigrant participation in local politics for the most important ethnic groups in Amsterdam Turks, Moroccans, and Surinamese. They find that Turks whose communities have the highest organizational density are more inclined to vote in local elections and participate in local deliberative processes than the other two groups. Perhaps more significant, and counterintuitive, they find a strong positive correlation between high levels of organizational segregation and political participation.

A strong ethnic community may be needed for successful integration, at least as far as political participation is concerned. If they are right, not only might the conventional wisdom be wrong. So might Rousseau and the authors of the Federalist , who so famously worried about the corrosive effects of intense subnational factions.

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In recent years a number of theorists have explored a somewhat different tack in decoupling citizenship from strongly shared commitments to particular identities. More than two decades ago Benedict Anderson showed that citizens can believe themselves members of the same political community and identify with its legitimating symbols, yet interpret that membership very differently.

A majority in a legislature may be able to agree that a law should be enacted even if its members could never agree on why it should be enacted. Indeed, that is perhaps the typical case in modern democracies. The important thing to realize, on this view, is that it is unnecessary that they agree on the values and commitments that lead them to agree on the particular outcome.


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Melissa Williams pursues a variant of this thought in chapter For a political unit to be viable its citizens must share something in common on her account, but it is better understood as a sense of shared fate than something as demanding as a shared political identity. Her central claim is that human beings live in relationships of mutual dependence that emerge from the past and extend into the future.

What transforms relationships of shared fate into political communities, on her telling, is that these relationships are, at least potentially, the subject of shared deliberation over a common good — including the common good of justice or of legitimacy. Communities of shared fate define structures of relationship that may or may not be chosen, valued, or regretted.

What matters is that their members believe that they can be sites of mutual justification on equal terms.

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This requires more than a Hobbesian modus vivendi , but considerably less than a shared sense of political identity. If Williams is right, even when people embrace the same national symbols they may interpret them in an Andersonian spirit — so long as those differences are not seen to be mutually threatening. Conceived as membership in a community of shared fate, citizenship consists in action aimed at governing relations of interdependence for the sake of a common good.

Over time, a widely accepted sense of shared fate may generate strongly shared identities, loyalties, and mutual affection among citizens, but it is far from clear that this is necessary for the society to function or be perceived as legitimate by its citizens. Identities, Affiliations and Allegiances. Specifications Publisher Cambridge University Press.

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