Ethics of Citizenship

Immigration and Group Rights in Germany

Ethics of Citizenship

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: April 1998

History > European History, Politics > Political Theory

Who is to be included in a political community and on what terms? William A. Barbieri Jr. seeks answers to these questions in this exploration of the controversial concept of citizenship rights—a concept directly related to the nature of democracy, equality, and cultural identity. Through an examination of the case of Germany’s settled “guestworkers” and their families, Ethics of Citizenship investigates the pressing problem of political membership in a world marked by increased migration, rising nationalist sentiment, and the ongoing reorganization of states through both peaceful and violent means.
Although some of Germany’s foreign workers have gradually attained a degree of social and economic legitimacy, Barbieri explains how they remain effectively excluded from true German citizenship. Describing how this exclusion has occurred and assessing current attitudes toward political membership in Germany, he argues for a just and democratic policy toward the tax-paying, migrant worker minority, one that would combine the extension of the individual rights of citizenship with the establishment of certain group rights. Through a dissection of ongoing public “membership debates” over issues such as suffrage, dual citizenship, and immigration and refugee policy, Barbieri identifies a range of competing responses to the question of who “belongs” in Germany. After critiquing these views, he proposes an alternative ethic of membership rooted in an account of domination and human rights that seeks to balance individual and group rights within the context of a commitment to democracy and equal citizenship.
Indispensable for scholars of German studies, Ethics of Citizenship also raises questions that will attract moral philosophers, constitutional scholars, and those interested in the continuing, global problems associated with migration.


“Barbieri's book explores theoretical issues about citizenship and political community in the context of a specific case: long-term resident aliens in Germany. Thus it establishes fruitful links between comparative politics and political theory and should be of interest to scholars from both fields. The work makes a significant contribution to an important debate whose theoretical and political salience is likely to increase over the next several years. — Joseph H. Carens, University of Toronto

“This is applied ethics at its best! Barbieri’s concrete practical recommendations are based on an illuminating discussion of the moral and political theory and the relevant empirical data concerning the status of long-term resident aliens in Germany.” — James P. Sterba, Notre Dame University


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