Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Naturalisation: the relationship between citizenship acquisition and attachment to the UK

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Day:Wed 3 Jul
  • Victoria Donnaloia, LSE

Modern scholars define citizenship as encompassing three dimensions of legal status, political participation and sense of belonging. Yet little empirical work has explored whether this is the case for the immigrants who naturalise. This study investigates the extent to which citizenship acquisition drives and is driven by attachment to the host country. Using two waves of Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, I ask whether the most rooted immigrants in the UK are more likely to acquire citizenship and whether they show higher levels of attachment to British society thereafter. Based on respondents who were observed to naturalise between waves, I find that a sense of belonging is the most salient dimension of citizenship. Immigrants with stronger affective ties to the UK are more likely to naturalise and to subsequently give more importance to their British identity. The difference between citizenship and permanent residence appears to be symbolic, rather than essential.