Moving Beyond Barriers
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Moving Beyond Barriers

Prospects for EU Citizenship

Edited by Sandra Seubert, Marcel Hoogenboom, Trudie Knijn, Sybe de Vries and Frans van Waarden

This book identifies, analyses and compares a variety of possible ‘barriers’ to the exercise of European citizenship and discusses ways to move beyond these barriers. It contributes in a multi-disciplinary way to a highly topical issue and offers new perspectives on EU citizenship in the sense that it critically analyses concepts of citizenship, the way EU citizenship is politically, legally and socially institutionalized, and elaborates alternatives to the current paths of realizing EU citizenship.
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Chapter 6: The social embeddedness of citizenship: rights, communities and polities

Marcel Hoogenboom and Trudie Knijn


From its inception, the European Union (EU) has tried to copy the historical route some of its Member States followed in the 19th and 20th centuries when they built national citizenship; civil (economic) rights came first, social and political rights would follow. Yet in this chapter, it is claimed that ‘effective’ citizenship cannot be accomplished by only granting EU habitants with rights. Both in the pre-modern European cities and towns as well as in 20th-century European nation states, economic rights were complemented by mechanisms that guaranteed the effectuation of citizenship rights in real-life situations. In 20th-century European nation states, these mechanisms were enforced by intermediary associations. By applying their power resources, they were able to build institutional arrangements – ‘polities’ – resulting in a ‘social liberal’ type of citizenship with elements of three basic normative citizenship approaches: liberalism, communitarianism and republicanism. In this chapter it is argued that ‘effective’ EU citizenship can only be accomplished if the formation of new class-based and identity-based ‘communities’ on a local, national and European level is actively stimulated and the building of new and vibrant polities on all three levels is aimed for.

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