Identity versus citizenship: Transformations in the discourses and practices of citizenship
The recent surge of theoretical interest in citizenship has been shaped in important ways by a growing sensitivity to the politics of identity. Citizenship, conceived as a matrix of rights and obligations governing the members of a political community, exists in tension with the heterogeneity of social life and the multiple identities that arise there-from. This tension expresses itself in the clash between the 'universal' citizen and numerous dispersed identities of which citizenship is but one. Citizens share the rights and obligations arising from that status, and the concept of 'equality' arising from this shared status has very real implications for the politics of identity, since citizenship has traditionally claimed priority over other identities. In practice this has often resulted in the relegation of alternative identities to an extra-political or even pre-political status. Today these alternative identities have become overtly politicized and as a result the stability of the identity of 'citizen' has itself been destabilized and contested. The 'rise' of identity politics has thus ushered in a number of challenges to, and transformations in, the discourses of citizenship. In this article we bring the resource of governmentality theory to bear upon the changing conditions of a modern complex citizenship that is not confined to the political arena, and a conception of politics not confined to the state. To this is added a neo-Gramscian consideration of counter-hegemony. This yields an agonistic vision of citizenship in which universal elements are not imposed from above, but are the outcome of projects in which social forces change themselves in constituting alliances with other political identities.