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Making British citizens: the role of citizenship ceremonies and tests in integration and belonging

Kipling, Kate (2015) Making British citizens: the role of citizenship ceremonies and tests in integration and belonging. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Political concerns over the effects of increased ethnic and religious diversity have sparked a growing interest in citizenship as a cohesive social force in society. A new civic integration agenda has emerged, with many countries legislating additional requirements for immigrant settlement. In the UK, the New Labour government introduced citizenship ceremonies and tests, which aimed to integrate migrants and encourage active participation in society. However, since their conception in 2002, there has been little research on new citizens’ experiences of these measures and the social impact of this policy. This thesis examines the geographies of citizenship ceremonies and tests, exploring the implications for aiding integration and developing a sense of national and local belonging. It draws on results from empirical research in Yorkshire and the Humber with a diverse range of new citizens, supplemented by interviews with state agents and observations of the naturalisation process. I argue that the securitisation of migration has increasingly been applied to the citizenship process, leading to remarkable similarities between the experiences of migrants from a variety of backgrounds. This is analysed through the lens of countertopography, which aims to connect places and social locations through common processes, critiquing the categorisation of migrant groups in migration studies. The ritualisation of citizenship in the ceremonies certainly appeared to create positive enduring feelings of belonging. However, I contend that the formulaic Life in the UK test is unlikely to foster integration. Whilst naturalisation measures are increasingly used as a tool to identify migrants who will assimilate, these disregard everyday acculturation. The contrast of top-down, ritualised prescriptions of citizenship, identity and belonging with lived, everyday interpretations of these concepts, improve our understanding. We can thus see more clearly how transnational citizenship regimes both condition the experiences of, and are actively constructed by, citizens.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Citizenship; integration; national identity; belonging; countertopography
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Miss Kate Kipling
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2015 11:29
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2017 11:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10607

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