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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The manner in which new citizens should be created is one of the most complex questions in political theory. The law of naturalization functions as a gatekeeper—it is designed to include the desirable people and exclude the undesirable ones. This chapter explores legal and theoretical aspects of naturalization. Part I addresses the ultimate goal of naturalization—what function does it serve?—by presenting three goals: contract, political test, and nation-building. Part II seeks to present three ways to assess the ethics of naturalization, drawing on conceptual and utilitarian grounds. Part III examines three trends in naturalization policy in the West—legalization, devaluation, and liberalization (followed by a restrictive turn). Naturalization has been internationalized in the direction of creating a right to citizenship; citizenship is becoming a “commodity” whose nature is increasingly influenced by economic considerations; and the process of liberalization in access to the status of citizenship is facing a cultural restrictive turn.

Keywords: naturalization, access to citizenship, cultural restrictions, allegiance

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