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Citizenship for Sale and The Neoliberal Political Economy of Belonging

Mavelli, Luca (2018) Citizenship for Sale and The Neoliberal Political Economy of Belonging. International Studies Quarterly, 62 (3). pp. 482-493. ISSN 0020-8833. E-ISSN 1468-2478. (doi:10.1093/isq/sqy004)

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Recent research considers the proliferation of citizenship-by-investment schemes primarily as a manifestation of the commodification of citizenship and of states succumbing to the logic of the market. I argue that these schemes exceed mere processes of commodification. They are part of a neoliberal political economy of belonging which prompts states to include and exclude migrants according to their endowment of human, financial, economic, and emotional capital. Hence, I show how the growing mobility opportunities for wealthy and talented migrants, the opening of humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees, and the hardening of borders for “ordinary” refugees and undocumented migrants are manifestations of the same neoliberal rationality of government. Conceptually, I challenge mainstream understandings of neoliberalism as a process of commodification characterized by the “retreat of the state” and “domination of the market.” I approach neoliberalism as a process of economization which disseminates the model of the market to all spheres of human activity, even where money is not at stake. Neoliberal economization turns states and individuals into entrepreneurial actors that attempt to maximize their value in economic and financial, as well as moral and emotional terms. This argument advances existing scholarship on the neoliberalization of citizenship by showing how this process encompasses the emergence of distinctively neoliberal forms of belonging.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/isq/sqy004
Uncontrolled keywords: citizenship for sale, neoliberalism, politics of belonging
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Luca Mavelli
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 09:18 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 12:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mavelli, Luca:
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