Gender, State and Citizenships: Challenges and Dilemmas in Feminist Theorizing

Jeff Hearn, Barbara Hobson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The concept of citizenships, in the plural, reflects different research traditions in citizenship theorizing: citizenship as legal status in a sovereign state, as a bearer of rights and obligations; citizenship as participation (civic republicanism); and citizenship as social membership. Each of these enhance the capabilities of individuals to become participants in political, economic and social spheres of life. Citizenships as a concept also embraces practices: how these aspects of citizenship are experienced in everyday encounters and the relationships of power: in families, workplaces, welfare offices, social movements and their variations in institutional contexts.
We focus on how gender has become more salient in theorizing across these citizenship domains, extending the boundaries of social membership and inclusion (Lister 2003; Hobson and Lister 2002). Implicit in the pluralizing of citizenships is the recognition of the need for a dynamic concept that engages with multi-dimensional aspects of gender, citizenships and social memberships within, below and beyond the state. This approach allows us to capture both the diversity in locations and situations of individuals and groups and the multi-scalar structures of governance: by national and transnational institutions and actors, as well as the opportunities and constraints for social movements to transform them. Finally, this chapter engages with the theoretical terrain on intersectionalities, viewing gender through the lens of complex inequalities across age, citizenship/migrant status, class, ethnicity/race, region, and their intersections. Throughout we engage with the dilemmas and challenges in theorizing gender, citizenships and social memberships: if and how gender matters in the framing of citizenship and what processes shape social divisions and citizenship identities.
This chapter comprises two main sections and a concluding discussion. The first focuses on feminist theorizing within two main research traditions in citizenship theorizing: first, social membership: T.H. Marshall’s framework, its legacy in welfare regime paradigm, and the dialogues on gender, states and citizenship that arose from them; second, civic republicanism and participatory citizenship, addressing agency (citizenship in practice), frames of gendered citizenship. In the second section, we focus on the changing landscape of feminist theorizing on citizenships emerging from critical analysis of men and masculinities, postcolonial critical race theory, intersectionality, migration and transnationalism. We conclude with Challenges, Dilemmas and Debates, addressing the implications of these complexities and dilemmas and challenges in gendered citizenships, in particular, the fragmentation in solidarities reflected in the widening gap in capabilities and inequalities and polarization across citizenship identities expressed in new forms of nationhood, nationalism and populism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Handbook of Political Sociology
EditorsThomas Janoski , Cedric de Leon, Joya Misra, Isaac William Martin
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781108147828, 9781108149006
ISBN (Print)9781107193499
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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