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Stakeholders' perspectives on naturalisation in the UK: implications for citizenship and national identity

Andreouli, Eleni (2010) Stakeholders' perspectives on naturalisation in the UK: implications for citizenship and national identity. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Naturalisation, the process whereby a non-national becomes a citizen, is a space where the national boundaries are demarcated institutionally and symbolically. Despite this, social psychology has generally disregarded citizenship as a topic of research. Against this background, this thesis argues that citizenship is a dynamic concept embedded in a system of self-other relations. The thesis examines processes of national identity construction within the naturalisation context of the United Kingdom. In particular, this research explores representations of citizenship held by three key stakeholders: naturalised citizens, citizenship officers and the British government. Thirty-three interviews with new British citizens, twenty interviews with citizenship officers and four key policy documents on earned citizenship have been analysed. Building on the theory of social representations and on a dialogical understanding of human thinking and identity, the thesis draws links between identity and processes of knowledge construction. Identity is defined as a process of positioning towards social representations and others. In studying processes of identity construction and negotiation, emphasis is placed on the quality of self-other relations and on the antinomic and argumentative nature of thinking about the social world. This research shows that Britishness, within this context, is constructed on the basis of the opposing themes of progress and decline. Consequently, identity construction takes the form of a complex negotiation between opposing positions or voices. For new citizens, 'becoming British' is constructed as both enrichment for the self and as identity threat. Furthermore, for citizenship officers, migrants are seen as both a resource and a burden, which resonates with the official distinction between skilled (elite) and unskilled (non-elite) migrants. These findings illustrate the interplay between the symbolic and institutional aspects of positioning processes and highlight the need for further social psychological study of citizenship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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