Rainer Bauböck: Globalization, new technologies and the future of democratic citizenship

Datum: 29 maj 2018
Tid: 10:00-12:00

Professor of Social and Political Theory, European University Institute.


Liberal democratic citizenship has been shaped by the legacies of Athens (democracy) and Rome (legal rights) but operates within a Westphalian framework where citizenship serves to assign mutually recognized responsibilities for individuals to states. I argue that this Westphalian dimension requires that the rules for determining citizenship reflect genuine links between individuals and states. In a Westphalian world, citizenship has both instrumental and identity value. Enhanced opportunities and interests in mobility rights strengthen instrumental interests in multiple citizenship among immigrants, among populations in less developed countries, and among wealthy elites. The latter two trends potentially undermine a genuine link norm and, if they prevail, might replace the Westphalian allocation of citizenship with a global market. New digital technologies create a second challenge to Westphalian citizenship. As Liav Orgad has argued, digital identities could provide a global legal persona for all human beings independently of their nationality, and blockchain technologies could enable the formation of non-territorial political communities providing governance services to their members independently of states. Both the instrumental uses of citizenship for geographic mobility and technologies that create substitutes for territorial citizenship are not merely relevant as current trends. They are also advocated and defended normatively as responses to the global injustice of the birthright lottery. I will challenge this idea and argue that liberal democracies should not be conceived as voluntary associations whose membership is freely chosen, but as communities of destiny among people who have been thrown together by history and their circumstances of life. How these foundations of democratic community can be maintained in the context of rising mobility and the digital revolution remains an open question.

Rainer Bauböck is part time professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute and the former chair in social and political theory at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of EUI. His research interests are in normative political theory and comparative research on democratic citizenship, European integration, migration, nationalism and minority rights. Together with Jo Shaw (University of Edinburgh) and Maarten Vink (University of Maastricht), he coordinates GLOBALCIT, an online observatory on citizenship and voting rights. His most recent book is Democratic Inclusion. Rainer Bauböck in Dialogue, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017.

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