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Citizenship as a rhetorical tool of nation-building: discourse in Flanders and Quebec

Abstract : Recognising that citizenship is an object of contention, this article studies how political actors mobilise the concept of citizenship at the subnational level. As immigrant integration policies define the ‘boundaries of citizenship’, I study the discourse on immigrant integration to trace political parties’ arguments supporting or opposing subnational citizenship. I conduct a qualitative content analysis of parliamentary debates between 1999 and 2014 in two subnational communities that express strong nationalist feelings: Flanders and Quebec. I find that citizenship is a rhetorical tool used by political actors, especially by sub-state nationalist parties, to promote their own political perspective (e.g. nation-building and identity). In Quebec, the Parti Québécois has monopolised the concept of citizenship, first to promote statehood and then to insist on values and identity. In Flanders, the notion of citizenship was not conceived in opposition to the central state, but in establishing citizenship trajectories and language requirements. In both cases, the discourses of sub-state nationalist parties have been marked by an ‘identity turn’, featuring a renewed insistence on identity, language and values. By focusing on the subnational level, this comparative study contributes to the rescaling of citizenship studies, while underlining the challenges presented when subnational actors in multinational settings mobilise around citizenship.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 11:27:43 AM
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Catherine Xhardez. Citizenship as a rhetorical tool of nation-building: discourse in Flanders and Quebec. Citizenship Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020, pp.804 - 824. ⟨10.1080/13621025.2020.1722612⟩. ⟨hal-03561461⟩



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