chapter  7
22 Pages

Citizenship and exclusion

Chapter 6 illustrated some of the ways in which citizenship has been constructed and played out in different contexts. Implicitly or covertly, many of these approaches attempt to make people ‘useful’ citizens within wider communities. Yet Gill Valentine (2001: 306) has observed that ‘despite the fact that the language of citizenship implies inclusion and universality, it is also an exclusionary practice’. She argues that citizenship tends to benefit selective groups of people, usually white, middleclass men, to the detriment of others who include ‘women, ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, those with mental ill-health and indigenous people’. Indeed, there is a history of governments using ‘gendered, racialized, religious, nativistic and other ascriptive categories to assign quite different civic statuses to different sets of people’ (Smith 2002: 109). So, although American republicanism in the nineteenth century represented an ideal for some (de Tocqueville 2003 [1835-40]), its vision of citizenship was intra-racial rather than inter-racial, with black and Native American people excluded from the privileges and opportunities to participate in civic society.