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Issue 2018, 1

Globalization and Postnational Model of Citizenship

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Abstract: This paper investigates the postnational model of citizenship and contemporary challenges to postnational citizenship in the era of globalization whose nature is ambivalent and also includes fragmentation. Although the postnational concept of citizenship is based on the recognition of multiple identities, it does not necessarily represent the postmodern definition of citizenship, because, if this were the case, it would have to be based on the postmodern idea of decentred subjects, or fluid self. Unlike the postmodern citizenship, it is possible to imagine postnational citizenship that includes different identities, but perceives each of them as homogeneous. Economic and political dimensions of globalization and Europeanization coexist with resurgence of nationalism. The perception of paradox of nationalism in global era is further intensified by its European context as it was expected that the European Union overcomes nationalist discourses.


Keywords: globalization, postnational citizenship, fragmentation, multiple identities, nation. 


Discussions about the nature of citizenship often turn into discussions about the nature of identity, and point to binary oppositions between the universal and the particular, postnational and national, global and local and necessary and contingent. In the twentieth century, the most numerous were debates between advocates of essentialist definitions of identity and those who reject any fixed determination, arguing that identities are social and historical constructs.

Postmodernists believe that homogeneous and fixed identities produce violence and repression, questioning the naivety and the groundlessness of every identity that excludes otherness. As anti-foundationalist view that includes multiple and shifting identities, postmodernism can represent not only the context in which the global and postnational notions of citizenship can be studied, but also a source of critique to essentialist conceptions of citizenship in general. 

In recent decades, the close relationship between citizenship and nation has been problematized, primarily in Europe, as a result of various economic, cultural, demographic and political processes such as economic globalization, cultural denationalization, migration, and the establishment of transnational institutions. Economic globalization that involves the development of capital mobility reduces state capacities, which control the national economy. While nationality served the interests of national capitalism and modern state, capitalist corporations of the modern era are anti-national in character and often in conflict with the interests of individual states (Milanovic 2016). As a result, a new form of citizenship was formed, one that is more privatised and market-oriented. Well-being is less associated with nationality, and more with the place of residence and human rights. Global institutions and human rights discourse questioned the monopoly of nation states to establish and guarantee rights and offered new possibilities of civic activism.,However, globalization coexists with regionalization and separation. Thus, its nature is ambivalent, and it poses various challenges to postnational citizenship.


The Postnational Model of Citizenship

Globalization started in the Western world between 1980 and 1988 and is considered to represent a paradigm shift which occurred after the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War era. “Especially since the end of the Cold War, it has become almost a ritual to attack the state and the state system and to celebrate the end of Westphalian system and its eventual replacement by a postmodern, post-sovereign order ruled by the forces of globalization and regionalization” (Kacowitcz 1998: 18). TheTreaty of Westphalia (1648) designed the nation-state system based on sovereignty and territoriality and this idea of state is challenged by postnational and postmodern world order. Globalization embraces various contradictory phenomena: neoliberalism and fragmentation; the idea of global peace and religious fundamentalism; transnational organizations and terrorism; modernism and postmodernism; prosperity and inequality.

Modern societies reflect features of both modernism and postmodernism. One cannot avoid the concept of “globalization” as a signifier of all phenomena described in the previous lines. Globalization cannot deny pluralism, and necessarily involves increased fragmentation and localization, which indicate multiple identities. Because of its ambivalent nature, globalization produces different interpretations, and one of the most important divisions is between modernists and postmodernists. While the representatives of modernism consider globalization a homogenization process, incurred as a result of consumerist culture and globalised media, for the advocates of postmodernism globalization is a source of hybridization, based on the synthesis of global and local level, resulting in the creation of increasingly complex social relations (Kellner 1998).

There is not globalization per se, but this concept refers to heterogeneous and complex processes and phenomena. The critics of globalization see it as a threat to national sovereignty, tradition and local cultures. The number of environmentalism advocates is claim that uncontrolled globalization leads to destructive environmental consequences of unimaginable proportions. On the other hand, there are good sides to globalization, such as the universal connection of people, creative options and possibilities for education, intercultural dialogue, respect for human rights and so forth.

Postnational citizenship stems from the political changes of global proportions, such as globalization and pluralism.,Like globalization and cultural pluralism, postnational citizenship belongs to the postmodern phenomena. However, although the postnational concept of citizenship is based on the recognition of multiple identities, it does not necessarily represent the postmodern definition of citizenship, because, if this were the case, it would have to be based on the postmodern idea of decentred subjects, or fluid self. Unlike the postmodern citizenship, it is possible to imagine postnational citizenship that includes different identities, but perceives each of them as homogeneous.

Pluralism or multiculturalism of contemporary societies is eroding homogeneity of the nation states. This homogeneity is destroyed by some contemporary problems, such as ecological disasters (acid rain, holes in the ozone layer, etc.) that transcend borders and cannot be overcome by relying on the abilities of individual states. The same is true for organised crime, trafficking in human beings, arms and drugs (Habermas 2001). Nation states policy loses the capacity to act in certain areas, and, on the other hand, does not succeed in including all areas and citizens in the framework of its decisions (Habermas 2001). By establishment of military and economic blocks (NATO and International Monetary Fund), global health organizations (World Health Organization) and universal human rights discourses (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) the very meaning of the concept of the border is changed, since mechanisms of governance are formed that are not tied to a certain territory, and which are beyond the nation state. In other words, there is a shift of competences from the national to the postnational plane (Habermas 2001). Large waves of migration in the last few decades require new policy, which would provide equality of members of different religious and ethnic communities and language groups.

Benedict Anderson determined the nation as an imagined political community because the members of even the smallest nation will never get to know other members of their nation, and yet there is an image of unity in their minds (Anderson 1983). In modern times, with the development of information and communication technologies, imaginative systems that supported the nation and national identity transcend the borders of nation states. New, transnational forms of identity and sense of belonging are developed. The downsides of globalization are: the difficulty of living together for members of different cultures in multiethnic societies, the conditioning of economic policies of national governments by international monetary institutions and transnational corporations and alienation, a result of rapid development of information and communication technologies.

From the perspective of postmodern theory, nations represent narratives, political strategies that represent ideological justifications of conflicts and divisions. By imagining homogeneity and national unity, the members of national community construct differences between other nations and themselves, which is comparable to Freud’s idea of the “narcissism of minor differences” (Freud 1918). Under the effect of “narcissism of minor differences” Freud implies that the smaller the real difference between the two nations, it will certainly be more intimidating in their imagination (Freud 1918). National unity is just a myth, a discursive construction which is composed of five aspects: the narrative of the nation, emphasise of origin,,continuity, tradition and universality. National identities, as special forms of social identities, change, decompose and multiply by discourse. Consequently, national identities are diffuse, fragile and changeable.

According to Edward Said, imperialism is also based on the universal power of storytelling: the power of storytelling and prevention of creation and appearance of other stories is very important for culture and imperialism, and is one of the main links between them. Significant “grand narratives” of emancipation and enlightenment mobilised people in the colonial world to rise up and cast off imperial subjection; in this process, those narratives and their protagonists inspired many Europeans and Americans to fight for new narratives of equality and human togetherness (Said 1993: 13). The nation is a fiction, a mental representation, based on a single, common identity, and this representation of togetherness is based on national myths, transferred from one generation to the next through the education system, the media, political rhetoric and so forth. National homogeneity, as pointed out by Homi Bhabha, represents a sort of imperialism and colonialism, which dampens diversity (Bhabha 1994). Homi Bhabha believes that hybridization based on the idea of heterogeneous, unstable identities is alternative to nationalism.

An increasing interdependence arises with globalization between postnational, macro-regional and sub-regional areas and identities. Although different in nature, transnational and local relations and identities strengthen simultaneously, which results in undermining traditional modern institutions such as the nation state (Zürn 2003). The “global” and “local” in this way are mutually determined, and their interdependence is the cause of seemingly paradoxical phenomena, such as the rise of regionalism, nationalism and the emergence of religious fundamentalism (which first appeared in the postmodern era). Boom of traditional and local, caused by supranational processes, represents the downside of globalization and postmodernism.

Institutions of national citizenship are less and less able to ensure equality, liberty and civic participation in political life. While nationalism remains a very effective means of populist mobilization, the nation no longer has monopoly over access to rights and processes of social and political participation. The sovereignty of the nation state is undermined on the subnational and postnational level, and through the market. Accordingly, new forms of citizenship appear that are not closely related to the nation. Damian Tambini distinguishes between three forms of postnational citizenship: postnational membership; European Union citizenship and multicultural citizenship (Tambini 2001: 200).

The most important element that contributed to the creation of postnational forms of citizenship is the economy. With the advent of multinational companies, which connected several financial centres and whose financial power exceeds the power of many states, postnational monetary policies were created, that subordinate national policies to the fluctuations of the financial market (Balibar 2001). Another event which encouraged the development of postnational forms of citizenship, according to Balibar, is the collapse of the Soviet socialist system, after which the world ceased to be divided into two antagonistic camps – the socialist and capitalist – two radically different social systems, each of which differently imagined the future of mankind (Balibar 2001). With the development of information society the world became a singular system in which information flow freely. Through these channels of communication, every individual is virtually connected with the rest of the world, which opens up the possibility for creation of new forms of belonging and identity, regardless of territorial borders.

The need for the definition of a postnational concept of citizenship, not defined by borders or nationality, arose with globalization, with the emergence of transnational emigrant communities within the public sphere, with the appearance of double national identities and the development of transnational civil societies. These phenomena influenced the extension of the idea of citizenship as membership in a particular political community to the sense of belonging that transcends borders. The new idea of belonging is supported by movements such as feminism, environmental activism and various human rights movements. Postnational citizenship is not the same as global citizenship, since it involves relations not fixed by borders, but which, in turn, may be far from global. Accordingly, Ann Florini (2000), Edwards and Gaventa (2001) and many other authors establish a distinction between global and postnational civil society.

There are different definitions of postnational citizenship. One group of analysts represents a horizontal approach, focusing on power relations within a society. However, this determination of a postnational citizenship remains unclear, since it does not explain the civil power relations in transnational terms. On the other hand, if the vertical citizenship within a state expanded to a transnational level, then, by analogy, multilateral public authorities would be the reference point, such as the European Union, the United Nations and international financial and trade institutions, as well as some political bodies such as the International Court of Justice (Tambini 2001: 175).

Therefore, transnational civil society actors constitute new forms of membership, but the question is whether they involve the rights and duties, which may constitute the basis of the idea of postnational citizenship. The narrow definition of this concept would include immigrants who are representatives of dual or multiple national identities, while the broader approach would relate to the multilayered processes by which political actors guarantee the rights of citizens in the framework of a transnational public sphere. For example, the age of globalization opens up the possibility of understanding the idea of citizenship as a multi-layered construct within which citizenship is affected and constantly reconstituted by the mutual action and positioning of local, ethnic, national and postnational layers. Both approaches are based on the idea of citizens as subjects of the law in postnational terms, rejecting the idea of citizens as passive objects of the law within the legal system of a state (Tambini 2001: 176).

Forms of postnational membership imply the rejection of nationality or formal citizenship, as civil status imperatives. The rights, participation and representation in the political state, become components that transcend the domain of national citizenship. The nation can no longer be considered a meaningful definiendum of modern state, if one takes into account the intensification and interconnectedness of global systems, as well as the dissolution of national domain through supranational forms of discourses (Tambini 2001: 201). Dissociation of the nation, state and identity, i.e. postnational condition, implies multiple levels of participation in the political community. 

Multiple membership includes various identities (local, regional and global) and includes complex systems of rights, duties and belonging. Soysal points out that Turkish immigrants in Berlin (like the Moroccans in Paris, Pakistanis in London, Surinamese in Amsterdam) are an example of new, postnational forms of membership and belonging (Soysal 1994). As foreign nationals in Berlin, Turkish immigrants share social space with strangers from other countries and nationals of Germany. This means that they pay taxes, acquire property, attend schools and colleges, form political associations, become members of political parties, organise protests, formulate programs and so forth. In other words, they are a part of the collective identity as immigrants, Turks, Muslims, aliens and Europeans (Soysal 1994). What makes them full members of the society are neither nation nor race, nor membership in the community, but sharing a common public, social space, which includes a set of principles and duties (such as human rights, law observance, protection of the environment, expectations of “a better future”, etc.) and organization and routine of everyday practice.

Thomas Hammar suggests that aliens who have permanent resident status in the EU member states and who are guaranteed basic rights, be classified as denizens (Hammar 2003). Rogers Brubaker believes that membership forms generated after the World War II departed from the norms that membership in a nation state implies. Brubaker cites as an example dual nationality, which is structured in the form of concentric circles: the inner circle of citizenship is based on nationality and the outer circle of denizenship is based on the place of residence (Brubaker 1996). Both Hammar and Brubaker argue that the key element of citizenship is residence, and not nationality. Zig Layton-Henry (1990) and Hans Jessurun D’Oliveira (1995) endorse similar versions of citizenship model based on the place of residence. Within this model of citizenship, civil status is not determined by nationality, but by a place of residence (Soysal 1994: 139).

The idea of a postnational citizenship does not undermine the dichotomy citizen/alien that is still present in many sociological analyses and political debates on immigration and immigrants’ experiences. The postnational model of citizenship implies fluid borders, which means that an alien working in a particular country may become its full member, without nationality status. The growing number of acquisitions of dual nationality further formalises the fluidity of membership.,The traditional order of national citizenship involves formal equality in terms of uniform civil rights. Citizenship implies single status, and the same set of rights and privileges is provided to all citizens.

The postnational model of citizenship, on the other hand, implies a multiplicity of membership. Within the postnational model, the universality of the self takes the place of nationality and universal human rights replace national rights. Justification of the obligations of the state towards foreign population exceeds the borders of the nation state. The rights of individuals in transnational communities are determined through internationalagreements, laws and declarations on human rights, regardless of nationality. Therefore, individual rights transcend national rights (Soysal 1994: 142). In the modern order of political organizations, individuals are identified through their status as citizens vis-à-vis the state and its institutions (Soysal 1994: 165).

A challenge faced by most definitions of postnational citizenship reflects in the fact that expanding the list of rights is not the same as building a postnational citizenship. Expanding the list of rights that transcends national borders and national identity is necessary, but insufficient for building a postnational concept of citizenship. This problem can be identified within the legal definition of the European Union citizenship (which will be elaborated in the following chapters).

It should be noted that weakening of sovereignty of national communities does not imply their extinction. Postnational citizenship, globalization and European integration do not make countries and national citizenship completely unnecessary and powerless. The sense of national belonging continues to make a feeling of security to most people, which is not compromised by the era of globalization. Secondly, the basis of the international order is still territorial state with its powers of authority. The construction of international institutions is quite indolent – one to two decades pass between the process of articulation of a certain need by international legislation and its establishment –, and one cannot expect that it will soon lead to a total loss of effectiveness of nation states (Zürn 2003: 16). Thirdly, the opportunities offered by international integration depend also on polities themselves and legislation, and, therefore, corrupt and disorganised states are avoided within the global economic system (Kellner 1998).

According to Benedict Anderson, the nation is the most universal value of political life of the modern era (Anderson 1983). Therefore, with postnational citizenship, the nationality will not disappear – it will just expand. In the postnational era, new roles are assigned to the nation state. However, although the international system is still primarily based on the nation state, there is a tendency in geopolitical literature that emphasises the need to transform the world in the direction of creating a world state on a global political level.

Michael Zürn argues that authors who believe that international institutions will lead to the withering of nation states proceed from the traditional understanding of the state in which two dimensions are united: “resources dimension” (state political-administrative system, whose hallmark is internal autonomy) and “realization of goals dimension” (welfare and public interest), which together provide a long-term existence of the state and its international recognition as a sovereign state (which constitutes the third dimension: “recognition dimension”) (Zürn 2003: 256). Denationalization, according to Michael Zürn, weakens only the realization of goals dimension, while retaining autonomy within the resources dimension (Zürn 2003: 256). A big change has occurred in the context of recognition dimension. Unlike traditional recognition by which the state acquired the right to self-determination, which, once established, was no longer subject to external scrutiny, changes in international law and politics constantly examine the respect of human rights and freedoms in a certain country as a basic condition for its international recognition (Zürn, 2003: 256-257). Contemporary nation state includes several interdependent levels of governance, which compromises its hierarchical structure.


Contemporary Challenges to Postnational Nature of EU Citizenship

The European Union as a political and economic community calls into question the traditional forms of citizenship and identity that are rooted in the nation state, and, therefore, the idea of EU citizenship is based on separation of political and legal content of citizenship from the very idea of nation. The nature of the European Union as a political community and points out its postnational and postmodern character, which derives from its hybrid nature, which includes subnational, national and supranational level.

Both Brexit and Europe’s migration crisis in Europe represent challenge to postnational nature of EU citizenship and identity as they pose identity issues on both national and European (supranational) level..Migration crisis in Europe reopened the gap between liberal (postnational) and conservative (nationalist) approaches, the European left wing and right-wing politics, as well as the old gap between the East and West in Europe. Due to security reasons and various types of crises, the European Union is coming back to the ideas of nations, nationalism and binary oppositions: we/they, European/non-European, Christianity/Islam, self/other and so forth. The European values on which the idea of European integration is based and European identity are put into question (Bauman 2016). If these dichotomies between European and non-European, Christian and Muslim, self and other are not overcome, and if there is no room for diversity, we come to S.P. Huntington’s idea of “clash of civilizations” (Huntington 2003). Sinic, Orthodox and African civilizations (identified by Huntington) are also present in the European Union.

Jacques Derrida analyses the concept of “cosmopolitanism” and argues about its Western heritage (Derrida 2005).,According to Derrida, the concept of cosmopolitanism includes two contradictory principles. On the one hand, there is a hospitality which offers the right of refuge to all immigrants. But on the other hand, the right to ask for refuge should not be equated with rights on residence. “All the political difficulty of immigration consists in negotiating between these two imperatives” (Critchley, Kearney 2005: X).In his Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, Immanuel Kant claims that “The Law of World Citizenship Shall be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality” (Kant 1795/2003: 102). For Kant, “hospitality means the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another” (Kant 1975/2003: 103). Kant makes a distinction between the right to hospitality and the right of residence and his idea of hospitality is conditional. Thus, hospitality does not imply citizenship or “a right to be a permanent visitor” (Kant 1795/2003: 103). Derrida rejects Kantian idea of hospitality arguing that it denies the unconditional aspect of hospitality (Derrida 2005).Derrida proposes politics based on friendship, and not on essentialist, exclusive categories such as gender and nation. According to Derrida, the idea of political from Aristotle’s philosophy up to the French Revolution was based on the concept of “brotherhood” (fraternité). This idea of the political excludes and marginalises a number of people, who are considered as “Other”. Democracy to come is ethical and political project which transcends distinctions between ethical and political, public and private, self and other, national and postnational and so on.

Economic and political dimensions of globalization and Europeanization coexist with resurgence of nationalism. The perception of paradox of nationalism in postnational era is further intensified by its European context as it was expected that the European Union overcomes nationalist discourses and moves towards postnational, postmodern political community. Brexit fundamentally undermines the dream of a Pan-European identity and puts into question the idea of postnational identity in Europe, since Brexit decided that “British” is not necessarily synonymous to “European”. Brexit reflects tension between Europeanization and globalization, since Britain did not reject globalization, but Europeanization as it was against a number of EU initiatives (EU funding for food banks, Schengen, it was outside Eurozone and so forth) (Žižek 2016). 

Another example of fragmentation as a process which occurs simultaneously with globalization (and Europeanization) are minorities and non-state peoples of Western Europe such as the Basques and Catalans, Scots and Welsh, who fight for national autonomy and, in some cases, national independence. The recent case is the Catalonia independence battle.

Contemporary challenges to the European Union as a postnational political community, call for rethinking the concept of borders. The concepts of citizenship, democracy, identity, belonging and so on also imply various forms of borders which include and exclude and make sharp distinctions between the self (citizen) and other (refugee, asylum seeker, alien, and so forth). Postmodern idea of the political involves rethinking borders as categorizations of mental landscapes and not only as demarcations of physical space. Poststructuralist and postmodern authors, such as Foucault and Derrida, explore the ideas of borders and boundaries,in relation to questions of identity, identification and belonging. 

Borders still haven’t disappeared although we are living in the postmodern era. Geographical, historical, political, psychological, symbolic and identitary borders still exist. “The drawing and redrawing of maps brought about the historical processes of nationalism, imperialism and decolonisation made evident that borders are not natural phenomena but man-made demarcations which are integral to the exercise of power in physical and mental forms” (Exploring Borders 2015).,

Regionalization coexists with nationalism, Europeanization and with globalization (Kacowitcz 1998: 18). Thus, both the postnational idea and regionalism or fragmentation reflect the need to escape or revise the nationhood. “Globalization, regionalization, and nationalism should be captured and studied as forces relative to and overlapping one another, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes cooperative toward each other, but never harmonious” (Kacowitcz 1998: 3). 

The development of regionalism certainly contributes to the strengthening of regional and local identities and enables the solution of everyday problems that citizens face, which are overlooked by the nation state. The basic argument for development of regionalism is that local entities – regions, provinces or major cities – are more familiar and, therefore, more competent to solve their own problems than remote bureaucratic systems in capital cities of nation states or in Brussels.

Some political scientists speak of neomedievalism as a parable to describe postmodern Europe, comparing the postmodern character of the European Union with the political structure of Europe during the Middle Ages (Van Ham 2001). This comparison stems from the fact of multiple competences and functions in the European Union, which was also a characteristic of the medieval European order based on decentralised authority and pluralism of power. Feudal Europe, from 8th to 14th century, was divided into many autonomous systems of government, the network of kingdoms, principalities (Van Ham 2001). Cities developed different social and political structures and often had independent systems of government defined by charters. An important feature of this period was the disintegration of state authority.

Feudal Europe is completely different from state-centric system established by the Treaty of Westphaliain 1648, which regulates bilateral relations as follows: a) The world is divided into sovereign states that do not recognise any higher authority; b) The principle of sovereignty of states and fundamental right of political self-determination is advocated; as well as c) The principle of legal equality between states; the principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state.

Unlike the Westphalian model, medieval Europe consisted of a system of overlapping territories and pluralism of power relations and identities. The medieval Europe metaphor, can serve as a good starting point for imagining new, postmodern political space. Characteristics of both medieval and postmodern Europe are: a) the complex meanings of the concepts of borders and space; b) multiple authorities; c) multiple identities and affiliations; d) transnational elites; e) the disappearance of a clear distinction between “public” and “private” (Van Ham 2001). However, medieval Europe does not include postnational or transnational identities, while the European Union includes not only subnational and national, but also postnational identities.



Contemporary challenges to the European Union, such as Brexit and migration crisis require rethinking the concepts of “postnationalism”, “citizenship”, “nation”, “asylum seeker”, “refugee” as well as traditional discourses on cosmopolitanism and hospitality. Postnational and postmodern forms of organization are created by increased migration and development of information and communication technologies, which enable the creation of new, transnational and flexible forms of identity.The era of globalization (and Europeanization) is paradoxical – the world is simultaneously coming together and coming apart. Postmodern idea of the politicalinvolves rethinking borders as categorizations of mental landscapes and not only as demarcations of physical space. Poststructuralist and postmodern authors, such as Foucault and Derrida, explore the ideas of borders and boundaries,in relation to questions of identity, identification and belonging. Borders still haven’t disappeared although we are living in the postmodern era. Geographical, historical, political, psychological, symbolic and identitary borders still exist. 


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DOI: 10.12893/gjcpi.2018.1.4