Skip to content


Elizabeth F. Cohen

Polity, December 2019

Citizenship cover

The Maxwell School at Syracuse University is proud to announce the publication of Citizenship, a new book by Elizabeth F. Cohen, professor of political science, and Maxwell alumnus Cyril Ghosh ’05 MA (PSc)/’08 PhD (PSc), associate professor of political science at Wagner College. Released in July, the book was published by Polity as part of its Key Concepts in Political Theory series.

Citizenship is an introduction to the concept of citizenship and an evaluation of the idea’s continuing relevance in the 21st century. The book explores the meaning of citizenship and unpacks its constitutive elements. It includes a brief survey of the history of pre-modern and modern political thought on citizenship. It also lays out prominent challenges to traditional theories of citizenship deriving from feminism, multiculturalism, and the idea of post-national membership.

In its concluding chapter, Citizenship probes the idea of “compromised citizenship” and explains threats to citizenship including statelessness, denationalisation/denaturalisation, and displacement. To illustrate these threats, the authors raise the contemporary migrant crises in Europe and Southeast Asia. In this way, the book re-centers attention on those who do not experience any citizenship protections.

The astute commentary in the book on the global refugee crisis, South-North migration, and growing demands for minority rights makes for a timely read.

Cohen is also a senior research associate at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. She is the author of Semi-Citizenship in Democratic Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and The Political Value of Time (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Politico.

Publisher's Description

Although we live in a period of unprecedented globalization and mass migration, many contemporary western liberal democracies are asserting their sovereignty over who gets to become members of their polities with renewed ferocity. "Citizenship" matters more than ever.

In this book, Professors Elizabeth Cohen and Cyril Ghosh provide a concise and comprehensive introduction to the concept of citizenship and evaluate the idea’s continuing relevance in the 21st century. They examine multiple facets of the concept, including the classic and contemporary theories that inform the practice of citizenship, the historical development of citizenship as a practice, and citizenship as an instrument of administrative rationality as well as lived experience. They show how access to a range of rights and privileges that accrue from citizenship in countries of the global north is creating a global citizenship-based caste system.

This skillful critical appraisal of citizenship in the context of phenomena such as the global refugee crisis, South-North migration, and growing demands for minority rights will be essential reading for students and scholars of citizenship, migration studies and democratic theory.

For more information about the book, visit the publisher’s website.