Making political citizens? Migrants’ narratives of naturalization in the United Kingdom

Leah Bassel, Pierre Monforte, Kamran Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Citizenship tests are arguably intended as moments of hailing, or interpellation, through which norms are internalized and citizen-subjects produced. We analyse the multiple political subjects revealed through migrants’ narratives of the citizenship test process, drawing on 158 interviews with migrants in Leicester and London who are at different stages in the UK citizenship test process. In dialogue with three counter-figures in the critical naturalization literature – the ‘neoliberal citizen’; the ‘anxious citizen’; and the ‘heroic citizen’ – we propose the figure of the ‘citizen-negotiator’, a socially situated actor who attempts to assert control over their life as they navigate the test process and state power. Through the focus on negotiation, we see migrants navigating a process of differentiation founded on pre-existing inequalities rather than a journey toward transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225–242
Number of pages18
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number3
Early online date25 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under [grant number ES/K010174/1]


  • Naturalization
  • citizenship tests
  • neoliberal citizenship
  • United Kingdom


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