Three Models of Political Membership: Delineating ‘The People in Question’

In her timely monograph, The People in Question, Jo Shaw provides a much-needed critical comparative review of the complex interactions between citizenship and constitutional law. I argue that, despite its emphasis upon citizenship’s essentially contested nature, Shaw’s latest work contains rich moral commitments and an important caution against uncritically eliding ‘full citizenship’ with ‘political membership’ more broadly construed. To establish these claims, I present a tripartite taxonomy of approaches to defining ‘the people’ based, respectively, upon the concepts of status, subjugation and duty. I claim that Shaw’s incisive analysis demonstrates perfectly why we should avoid placing undue reliance upon ‘status-based’ models of community membership and conclude by advancing an original, alternative and hybridised model of ‘the people in question’.

Alex Green, Three Models of Political Membership: Delineating ‘The People in Question’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 2020.