What are the definitions of formal citizenship, substantive citizenship, and insurgent citizenship? Why are these distinctions important? How is citizenship “continually constituted and challenged through political struggle”? Why are immigrants entitled to full civil, political, and social rights, including higher education?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Formal citizenship is a person's "legal" citizenship. Substantive citizenship includes the protected rights that "formal citizens" actually and in reality obtain through their legal citizenship. Insurgent citizenship is considered a person and/or group of formal citizens who believe that they are being denied their protected rights under their formal...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Formal citizenship is a person's "legal" citizenship. Substantive citizenship includes the protected rights that "formal citizens" actually and in reality obtain through their legal citizenship. Insurgent citizenship is considered a person and/or group of formal citizens who believe that they are being denied their protected rights under their formal citizenship. Insurgent citizenship is the act of participating in a movement or revolt in an effort to obtain whatever right the members of the movement believe they are being denied. The global "Occupy" movement is an example of what some anthropologists consider insurgent citizenship. Formal, substantive, and insurgent citizenship are not different types of citizenships offered by a particular country; rather, they are anthropological and sociological concepts. Substantive and insurgent citizens usually have formal (i.e., legal) citizenship.

I am not sure we can actually state that these concepts are important. In my opinion, an anthropologist observing a social occurrence and choosing to define it doesn't make that concept important. The better question would be, "how can understanding formal, substantive, and insurgent citizenship help improve quality of life?"

Immigrants who are in the legal process of obtaining formal citizenship are offered the same protection as a formal citizen because they are intending on permanently residing in the country to which they immigrate.

You must also understand that all countries are different, and these loose definitions of citizenship cannot be stringently applied globally.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are distinct differences between formal citizenship, substantive citizenship, and insurgent citizenship. Formal citizenship is a term used for those legally deemed citizens of a country. However, substantive citizenship applies to the varied rights legal citizens may share. Although all are formal citizens, some individuals in certain countries may have different rights based on their religious beliefs, political views, or other characteristics. For example, women in the United States were not granted the right to vote (although they were formal citizens) until 1920. Insurgent citizenship is a more modern term that relates to individuals who are standing against the “status quo” system and are fighting to change what citizenship means in a country. The Occupy movement would be an example of insurgent citizenship.

To answer the second part of this question addressing citizenship and its relation to political struggle and immigrant rights, you only need to look at the current headlines to get plenty of material to support your response. President Trump used immigration and citizenship as a leading tenet for his political campaign. The question about immigrant rights is also being debated right now in the United States. There are varying viewpoints as to the rights immigrants should receive if they are not yet formal citizens.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Citizenship refers to a person's legally binding "sworn loyalty" to a country. Loyalty to a country can be pledged based on the country being the place of birth, the country being the place of one or both parents' birth, or based on an immigrant having undergone the naturalization process (Burton's Legal Thesaurus, 4th ed., "Citizen"). The US naturalization process for immigrants includes documentation, passing an English and civics test, and taking the oath of allegiance in a formal ceremony.

However, the naturalization process is not necessarily easily, and there will be some immigrants who have trouble gaining citizenship. Also, despite the legality of naturalization, there are still those who, sadly, resist the naturalization of immigrants; some members of society feel that some immigrants do not deserve citizenship.

Due to those two difficulties, scholars have found it necessary to devise a means to distinguish between formal citizenship and substantive citizenship. The term formal citizenship refers to a person's actual legal citizenship. The term substantive citizenship refers to a person's granted power to be able to actually enjoy the rights of citizenship, especially through voting. Due to xenophobia and humanity's tendency to want to exploit other people, there is a history across the US and Europe of denying ethnic groups their right to be full citizens. The US can point to the Southern states' denial of African Americans the right to vote and their employment of segregation laws as two examples of denying legal citizens their full rights to citizenship.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team