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National identification and political engagement before and after naturalisation

Donnaloja, Victoria (2020) National identification and political engagement before and after naturalisation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. ISSN 1369-183X (In Press)

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Identification Number: 10.1080/1369183X.2020.1715791


Empirical work has documented the socio-economic characteristics of immigrants who naturalise and the effects of naturalisation on labour market outcomes. Political engagement and national identity are, however, salient but understudied dimensions of citizenship. Using two waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, I investigate immigrants’ national identification and political engagement before and after naturalisation. I find that before naturalisation those who acquire citizenship are more likely to identify as British, be familiar with the British political system and are less interested in politics compared to those who do not. I also find that after naturalisation, the importance new citizens give to their British identity is higher than before, but their interest in politics is lower. I argue that citizenship retains its role as marker of national identity for immigrants and that the negative association between naturalisation and interest in politics for immigrants is compatible with the low political engagement of the British-born population. I suggest that the further decline in interest in politics following naturalisation may be explained by immigrants’ disillusionment with a political narrative that fails to include them. I reflect on the implications of my findings for the conceptualisation of citizenship, for policy, and for future research.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Social Policy
Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2020 15:30
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2020 00:16

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