Project Project
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Theory and Policy of Naturalization

Research Fields
Citizenship Theory
Project Management
2017 - 2022
ERC Starting Grant

The manner in which citizenship should be allocated is one of the most sensitive decisions in any political community. And yet, naturalization policies have no clear theory; they include “a little bit of everything”—citizenship tests, loyalty oaths, integration contracts, attachment requirements, and language demands. Requirements are knowledge-based (language proficiency, civic knowledge), behavior-based (good moral character, residency), and based on ties with the host country (family, employment). Some requirements apply to entry into the territory, while others to access to citizenship. Very often, the goal of these policies is unknown, their format is arbitrary, their effectiveness is yet to be ascertained, and their justification is unclear.

The project has two goals: [1] empirically, it collects naturalization laws and policies worldwide (in cooperation with the GLOBALCIT Project at the European University Institute); [2] normatively, it analyzes questions related to the law and theory of naturalization. How should states “create” new citizens—under which international standards, rules, and procedures? Should the naturalization process merely maximize national interests, or also contribute to global interests? Which naturalization goals, means, and criteria are justified? Should a modern theory of naturalization follow a jus nexi principle of membership? And what should be the normative connection between the requirements of access to citizenship (who can become a citizen) and the conceptions of nationhood (what citizenship is about)? Overall, the project seeks to present a comparative account of naturalization, explore its underlying theory, and investigate legal and moral limitations in regulating requirements for access to citizenship.