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This article makes a contribution to the general theory of citizenship. It argues that there is a need for a supplementary concept of ‘denizenship’ to illustrate changes to and erosion of postwar social citizenship as famously described by T H Marshall. The first aim is to construct a more theoretically developed idea of what the concept of a ‘denizen’ means in sociological terms. In its conventional meaning, this term describes a group of people permanently resident in a foreign country, but only enjoying limited partial rights of citizenship. I label this Denizenship Type 1. By contrast, Denizenship Type 2 refers to the erosion of social citizenship as citizens begin to resemble denizens or strangers in their own societies. The argument then is that there is a general convergence between citizenship and denizenship. As such, Denizenship Type 2 provides a possible supplement to the various terms that have recently been proposed, such as flexible citizenship, semi-citizenship, or precariat to describe the attenuated social and economic status of citizens under regimes of austerity and diminished rights and opportunities. As the life chances of citizens decline, they come to resemble denizens. One illustration of this basic transition is to be found in the changing nature of taxation. This observation also allows me simply to observe that the political economy of taxation has been somewhat neglected in the recent literature on citizenship where questions about identity and subjectivity have become more dominant. As a result of these socio-economic changes, the modern citizen is increasingly merely a denizen with thin, fragmented, and fragile social bonds to the public world. The corrosion of the social, economic, political, and legal framework of citizenship offers a new slogan: ‘we are all denizens now.’


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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