The UK Citizenship Process: Political Integration or Marginalization?

The UK ‘citizenship process’ subjects immigrants to requirements ostensibly intended to enhance their identification with ‘British values’. Policy-makers suggest the policy will facilitate immigrants’ integration: as they learn about ‘life in the UK’, they will become better able to understand and navigate core institutions. Many external observers, by contrast, believe that the requirements exacerbate immigrants’ marginalization. The author of this article uses panel data from ‘Understanding Society’ to investigate political participation among non-citizen immigrants at Wave 1, comparing those who became citizens by Wave 6 to those who remained non-citizens. Those who became citizens subsequently reported lower interest in politics, relative to those who remained non-citizens; in addition, they were not more likely to be active in organizations (e.g. political parties and trade unions). These findings reinforce the concerns of critics: the UK citizenship policy appears to do more to alienate new citizens than it does to facilitate their integration in the political sphere.

David Bartram, The UK Citizenship Process: Political Integration or Marginalization?, Sociology, 2019