In Defence of Multilevel Citizenship – A Rejoinder

The twenty-two responses to Rainer Bauböck’s proposal for strengthening urban citizenship suggest two general lessons. First, there is more common ground than expected. None of the authors defends a strong statist view that would not leave any space for a conversation about citizenship at the local level. Second, in spite of its long premodern pedigree, the idea of urban citizenship seems still so new that it needs to be fleshed out in more detail. Conceptual confusion makes it hard to distinguish misunderstanding from disagreement, so the most urgent task now seems to be clarification.

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Does Urban Citizenship Promote Inclusion for the Poor, Sick, and Outcast?

The assumption is that nation-states often undervalue potential immigrants and that cities would better value their potential contributions. Because citizenship involves not only inclusion but also exclusion, however, there are dangers to proposals such as Bauböck’s that “cities should determine who their citizens are independently of how states do this.”

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Urban Citizenship – a Status or a Practice?

Helmut Aust reflects on the role of law in this discourse. The answer one might give to the question of decoupling citizenship from the state would arguably also depend on one’s disciplinary perspective. It is easier to think outside of the box from the perspective of political theory, political philosophy, and history than it is from the perspective of the law.

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Urban Agglomeration, Constitutional Silence

Urban citizenship is a bold and intriguing idea, regardless of whether we envision it as an alternative or as a complement to extant models of state-based membership. However, this concept seems to be slightly off target in identifying the main issue of city under-representation, namely the constitutional non-existence of cities, and more generally, the great constitutional silence surrounding today’s extensive urbanization and the consequent rise of megacities.

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The Next Step: Coupling City-zenship to Human Rights

Should urban citizenship be emancipated from national citizenship? Barbara Oomen points at the international human rights framework for three reasons: (1) This is where local authorities are already looking for inspiration; (2) the legal framework of human rights offers an added value in meeting some of the underlying objectives of city-zenship; and (3) it could mitigate concerns legitimately raised in earlier contributions.

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