CITIZENS, FOREIGNERS, OR GERMANS? THE STATE AND PERSONS OF IMMIGRANT BACKGROUND IN THE MAKING OF MEMBERSHIP IN GERMANY SINCE 1990
Williams, Daniel Aaron
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This dissertation examines citizenship and nationness in contemporary Germany. It argues that citizenship and nationness represent two forms of membership which are constituted at the level of state and at the level of prospective citizens. At the level of the state, it considers changes in German citizenship policies in 1990, 1992, and 2000. At the level of prospective citizens, it examines forty-seven persons of immigrant background and their understandings of German citizenship and their own nationness. Though not the same, citizenship and nationness may be related in various ways. Previous scholarship shows that nationness has been a key category and criterion for who may become a citizen at the level of state, as expressed in citizenship policies. Similarly, the self-understandings of individuals as members of the nation may inform their decision to become citizens. Equally, their citizenship status may inform their sense of their own nationness. Finally, understandings of citizenship and nationness which are institutionalized in the state may inform the understandings of persons of immigrant background. Beginning in 1990, citizenship policies became increasingly more liberalized and accessible to persons of immigrant background without German descent. This dissertation shows that these changes after 1990 are explained by understandings of nationness, as expressed in narratives of political parties about immigrants and foreigners, Germany and the nation, and citizenship as an institution. Contrary to scholarship emphasizing nationally-specific traditions of citizenship, as well as shifts towards liberalizing access to citizenship, this dissertation shows that understandings of nationness differ mainly by political parties. The self-understandings of persons of immigrant background reflect some, but not all, of the changes at the level of the state. In particular, most persons of immigrant background see themselves as German and as belonging in everyday life in Germany. However, their citizenship status is largely independent of their sense of national belonging. This suggests that national belonging and citizenship are largely disconnected for ordinary people. In addition, the disconnect between nationness and citizenship is more pronounced for persons who are citizens, indicating that they view their membership as citizens should be met with a sense of national membership.