Reviewed by Swen Hutter and Jasmine Lorenzini in Mobilization, 2016.
This new handbook edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden (University of Amsterdam) systematically presents the literature on social movements and citizenship. It provides a precious resource for scholars working in both fields, and it is valuable for faculty and students alike. Most importantly, by bringing together key authors from both fields, this edited volume encourages research linking the two fields, and thus it could provide the basis for a new research agenda that bridges the focus on the micro-level in citizenship research with the focus on meso- or macro-phenomena in the social movement literature. The development of research building on reflections about citizenship and social movements would benefit greatly to the study of contemporary political involvement of citizens at various levels, on multiple issues, and through various means.
The handbook includes four parts: The first part on political citizenship consist of eight chapters, which after an introduction by Russell J. Dalton discuss how the concept is studied in specific fields on topics such as gender, multiculturalism, ecology, or Europe; the second part covers seven chapters and presents mains lines of theoretical reasoning on social movements including resources, political opportunities, or recent developments in relation to emotions and new information technologies; the third part moves on to the presentation of research on six specific social movements (such as the women’s or animal right movements but also the Tea Party movement); lastly, the fourth part touches upon social movements and citizenship in the global south, as it consist of four chapters on China, India, Africa, and the Arab world.
The structure of the book allows covering a wide breadth of research on both citizenship and social movements. In so doing it offers useful resources for researchers who are not familiar with either one or the other field. The chapters critically summarize the state of the art in the respective subfields of study, present useful distinctions and typologies (for example, an innovative take on mechanisms of resource access is presented by Bob Edwards and Melinda Kane), and suggest avenues for further research (for example, Helena Flam sketches an interesting agenda on emotions and social movements focusing on transformative and “nagging” protest events). The in-depth coverage of different types of citizenship and theoretical approaches in social movement research are valuable in itself and might definitely be good course material. The downside of this specific structure of the handbook is that the two fields of research remain rather separate in many instances.
However, some chapters achieve a promising discussion linking both research fields. For instance, the chapter on “citizenship, gender, and sexuality” (Surya Moro and Diane Richardson), as well as the ones on multicultural (Narzanin Massoumi and Nasar Meer) and urban citizenship (Patricia Burke Wood) go beyond the separate presentation of citizenship and social movements in order to open research agendas linking the two. The chapter on urban citizenship does a great job in linking the more theoretical idea of urban citizenship, the emerging empirical research on this issue, and the study of social movements. Similarly, David S. Meyer and Erin Evans present the key features of the political process approach by emphasizing the manifold and complex relationships between social movements and the various dimensions of citizenship. The most important empirical link between the two research fields is provided by the four chapters on social movements and political citizenship in the global south. As Lei Xie in the chapter on China convincingly argues, the concept of citizenship (as civility and membership) might offer “a powerful means of understanding Chinese social movements that are characterized as being both constrained and mobilized within the boundaries of established political institutions.” Yet, other chapters fail to engage in discussion between the two fields also because of the structure of the book – when two separate chapters present the ecological dimension of citizenship and environmental social movement, for instance, in order to step on the other chapter grounds the fields of research remain more scattered.
The concept of citizenship, as defined in the introduction of the handbook, implies a focus on the political dimension of citizenship. On the one hand, this choice narrows down the concept which includes multiple dimensions – most commonly the study of rights and responsibilities in general, the study of the social rights dimension, or the territorial anchorage of citizenship at various and potentially multiple levels. On the other hand, the narrow focus on political citizenship also implies two aspects of participation – institutional and protest politics. In fact, in his chapter, Russell J. Dalton points at two types of participatory citizenship – the dutiful and the engaged – which correspond roughly to institutional vs non-institutional participation. In this way, both (a narrow and broad) understanding of citizenship offer venues for broadening the scope of social movement research, either by considering the importance of rights and responsibilities or by considering the relationship between different forms of participation. For example, the chapter on “citizenship, gender and sexuality” highlights the importance of full membership in the political community “for different gender”. More precisely, Moro and Richardson point at the struggles for inclusion in the polity by women, homosexuals, and transgender which took different forms: fight to access suffrage, to be represented and to be able to run for election without being disqualified based on one’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation. These struggles have taken the form of protest, but aimed at institutional participation. Similarly, in their chapter on multicultural citizenship, Nazanin Massoumi and Nasar Meer historically trace the issue of the inclusion of some and the exclusion of others in political engagement. Thus, political struggles around citizenship aim at overcoming cleavages that limit access to rights and participation in so doing they use social movements repertoires of action to gain access to any form of political participation. Taking seriously the contribution of citizenship to the study of social movements would thus allow moving beyond the divisive line between institutional and non-institutional participation.