Criteria of Citizenship and Social Inclusion in Immigrants’ Discourse in Greece

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Naturalization criteria play an important role in who can be accepted as a member of a national polity. In the political and social sciences often a distinction is drawn between the right of blood—jus sanguinis—and the right of soil—jus soli—as guiding principles for naturalization. This distinction corresponds to the 2 different types of nationalism and national belonging identified by Kohn (1945, 1955) namely ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism. In social psychology, this distinction has been used to examine which type of national belonging is more often associated to prejudice against immigrants and their exclusion. Recent approaches informed by social constructionism and discourse analysis examine how citizenship and the exclusion of immigrants are articulated in talk and what interactional goals seem to serve in each occasion. In this article, we examine how immigrants in Greece construct naturalization criteria in talk and how these may relate to the inclusion or exclusion of immigrants. Participants were 25 immigrants who participated in an interview on the current situation in Greece and the new naturalization law. Analyzing the interviews using rhetorical psychology, ideological dilemmas, and discursive psychology we argue that participants legitimized their own presence within Greece through the ridicule of citizenship criteria. At the same time, they seemed to exclude other immigrant groups using discourses of legality/illegality. A possible reason for this dilemma, we maintain, is the diverse ideological background of the notion of citizenship, which allows its mobilization toward different ends.

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