Five Dimensions of Citizenship

The notion of citizenship as the monopoly of national governments, and deriving exclusively from legal status, does not match the reality of how citizenship rights operate today.

In our book, we show that “state citizenship” in the United States makes sense in a federalist framework, operating as a parallel concept to national citizenship. It does not refer to state secession by another name, nor is it meant to highlight states’ rights as in the context of the American Civil War. We argue that federalism has lasting consequences for citizenship, which we define quite simply as the provision of rights by a political jurisdiction to its members.

What happens at the national level directly impacts state citizenship’s dimensions, indicators, and thresholds. Specifically, state citizenship emerges from the expansion or contraction of core rights (and access to those rights) along five dimensions:

    1. the right to free movement;
    2. the right to due process and legal protection;
    3. the right to develop human capital;
    4. the right to participate and be represented; and
    5. the right to identify and belong.

Types of Federated Citizenship

We also uncover three types of state citizenship in a federalism framework: regressive state citizenship, where states erode rights that granted to individuals at the federal level; reinforcing state citizenship, where states enforce federal limitations on rights to particular types of individuals; and progressive state citizenship, where states exceed the rights granted to particular types of individuals at the federal level.

As we show in our book, these concepts and indicators are especially helpful in understanding contemporary dynamics in immigrant rights at the state and local levels. At the same time, our conceptual framework is also designed in a way that it can be more broadly applicable to understanding citizenship rights as they involve race, gender, and LGBT identity.