Legal and symbolic membership : symbolic boundaries and naturalization intentions of Turkish residents in Germany
Title: Legal and symbolic membership : symbolic boundaries and naturalization intentions of Turkish residents in Germany
Author: WITTE, Nils
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2014/100; EUDO Citizenship Observatory
The lasting disenfranchisement of foreign residents presents democratic countries of immigration with a problem of legitimacy. The urge to open access to citizenship has been omnipresent in the academic debate since Walzer’s Spheres of Justice. But what if immigrants do not want to naturalize in spite of liberal access? While many researchers studied the costs and benefits of naturalization little is known about the role of symbolic membership. This paper goes beyond past approaches. Next to pragmatic reasons of citizenship acquisition it considers the relation of immigrants to the majority group. The theoretical framework is developed from empirical findings and draws on the concept of symbolic boundaries. The analysis is based on a survey of Turkish residents in the German city of Hamburg. This group gains few additional rights through naturalization. Hence, symbolic aspects of membership become vital in the decision-making process. Results confirm the relevance of rights-oriented motives connected to the legal status. Moreover, symbolic aspects of membership are shown to be crucial for naturalization intentions. This insight offers an interpretation also for the non-naturalization of eligible immigrants. The paper is embedded in a larger project, where qualitative follow-up interviews explore variant perceptions of and responses to symbolic boundaries.
Subject: Germany; Immigration; Naturalisation; Citizenship; Symbolic membership; Legal membership
Type of Access: openAccess; openAccess