City-zenship and National Citizenship: Complementary and Competing but not Emancipated from Each Other

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


Global trends in urbanisation demonstrate not only population shifts from rural to urban areas, but also an increase in the political power of cities. While cities are typically characterised as sub-units of the state, they are increasingly becoming semi-independent political actors. Their activity in global politics (e.g., supranational city-based networks) and within the state (e.g., regulations which challenge national laws) indicate a desire for greater political autonomy vis-à-vis the state. To that extent, it may seem as if cities and city-zenship are headed towards an emancipation from nationality, calling for the expansion of civic capacities at the city level. However, while applauding this trend, I want to deepen the ambivalence in Rainer Bauböck’s account of urban citizenship and to suggest a skeptical but friendly critique towards notions of emancipating urban citizenship from nationality. The relationship between urban and national citizenship should not be seen as mutually exclusive; claims for enhancing city-zenship and decentralising state power are warranted only insofar as they provide forward-thinking urban response to the decline in democratic participation and civic solidarity at national levels. While these claims highlight the tensions between cities and states, they do not obviate the role of the state as the polity that safeguards the autonomy of city-dwellers and enables them to act individually and collectively towards shaping the city’s public sphere and its conception of the good.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean University Institute
StatePublished - 16 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEUI Working Paper
PublisherEuropean University Institute
ISSN (Electronic)1028-3625

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