“Illegal status and Social Citizenship: Thoughts on Mexican Immigrants in a Postnational World.”

“Illegal status and Social Citizenship: Thoughts on Mexican Immigrants in a Postnational World”

Adelaida R. Del Castillo

Adelaida R. Del Castillo’s “Illegal Status and Social Citizenship,” social citizenship is defined by the practices of survival and of creating a community outside the realm of legal citizenship (i.e. birthplace, voting). As Castillo writes, “the practice of creating a community and the utilization of social rights…consists mostly of informal, sometimes makeshift activities at the local level that suggest a civic identity and social citizenship made possible by the benefits and government largess of the welfare state” (93). In this way, social citizenship, practiced by those outside of the nation, is created through “the use of established cultural norms, resources, and institutions” as well as through informal networks (93) and puts pressure on the often assumed connection between legal rights and access to social services. Therefore, while Rosaldo’s cultural citizenship is based upon recognition and the struggle for a voice in the public sphere, Castillo’s social citizenship is more explicitly linked to economic resources. She asserts that “social rights are sensitive to political and economic changes” and that social citizenship requires that individuals work, and pay taxes, to earn the right for the social benefits of the welfare state (95). Still, she points out that participation in the “consensual citizenship,” in which the worker provides labor in exchange for the social benefits of the state, does not necessarily also provide recognition in the nation with “free and equal status…obtained through participation in activities related to the public sphere.” Instead, “for the illegal immigrant, the public sphere is flexible, local, and informal” (97). Here lies the clearest distinction between cultural and social citizenship—social citizenship and the economic resources therein, does not guarantee cultural citizenship’s recognition and voice in the public sphere.

del Castillo, Adelaida. “Illegal status and Social Citizenship: Thoughts on Mexican Immigrants in a Postnational World.” Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: A Reader. Denise A Segura and Patricia Zavella, eds. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

One thought on ““Illegal status and Social Citizenship: Thoughts on Mexican Immigrants in a Postnational World.”

  1. Pingback: Comps Notes: Theories of Citizenship & Nation | Ph.D.s and Pigtails

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