Theorising noncitizenship: concepts, debates and challenges

Katherine Tonkiss, Tendayi Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Existing political theory, particularly which deals with justice and/or rights, has long assumed citizenship as a core concept. Noncitizenship, if it is considered at all, is generally defined merely as the negation or deprivation of citizenship. As such, it is difficult to examine successfully the status of noncitizens, obligations towards them, and the nature of their role in political systems. This article addresses this critical gap by defining the theoretical problem that noncitizenship presents and demonstrating why it is an urgent concern. It surveys the contributions to the special issue for which the article is an introduction, drawing on cross-cutting themes and debates to highlight the importance of theorising noncitizenship due to both the problematic gap that exists in the theoretical literature, and the real world problems created as a result of noncitizenship which are not currently successfully addressed. Finally, the article discusses key future directions for the theorisation of noncitizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-852
Number of pages26
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Citizenship Studies on Dec 2015, available online:


  • citizenship
  • human rights
  • political theory
  • migration
  • noncitizenship


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