Those who have and those who dont - Critical citizenship studies, migration and democracy

Course content

What is the meaning of ‘citizenship’ in liberal democratic states where migrants provide cheap labor without gaining access to basic civic rights or education? In 2016, the population of non-EU migrants in the European Union grew up to 22 million, but EU member states granted citizenship to less than 1 million persons. According to the UN’s Global Compact proposal governments will take more active efforts to integrate and settle 25.4 million refugees worldwide, but asylum seekers are not mentioned in the treaty.

Studies on critical citizenship show that access to refugee status, permanent residency or citizenship in Denmark and other EU countries have become restricted to few, socially privileged individuals given rising standards for language requirements and citizenship tests that restrict access particularly for women and vulnerable groups. At the same time, some countries, like Canada, contain right wing populist parties by granting migrants early access to voting and education. Self-organized migrants groups and activists in U.S. cities, in Italy, the UK, Denmark, Austria, Germany or Sweden use protest, strike, blockades, disruptive action, or hunger strikes and marches to ‘enact citizenship’ (Isin) symbolically gaining media support for political claims. However, migrants’ access to public voice and solidarity by majority citizens is limited through explicit and implicit boundaries of race/ethnicity, language, and ‘deservingness’ standards. Given that political theorists still disagree whether and if democracy depends on a shared national or local language, what is the impact of multilingual digital media in Danish, English, Arabic, Farsi and other migrant languages? Do new forms of cosmopolitan solidarity and translation challenge monolingual standards of citizenship? How did historic workers and feminist movements influence the struggle of current refugee families in the US or in Europe? The course approaches single themes from an interdisciplinary perspective based on empirical, cross-national comparison using mixed methods and single case studies on different regions and based on non-western, feminist and postcolonial perspectives of citizenship and democracy.


Elective course


Course package (MSc 2015):

Culture, lifestyle and everyday life


Learning outcome


The course will provide the students with knowledge of

- the core sociological research literature within the thematic field of the course, and

- familiarity with the recent literature on Critical Citizenship Studies, Migration, and Democracy including research on gender, intersectionality, ‘queer migrations’, linguistic justice and translation. 



Students will have trained their ability to

- compare and contrast key theoretical perspectives that are central to the thematic field of research within the course

- identify significant historical and contemporary developments in research on citizenship, democracy, and migrant mobilizations.

- apply and critically discuss key theoretical concepts within the thematic field of the course

- review and reflect on the interdisciplinary scientific literature on citizenship, migration, and democratic participation acquiring insights into a number of different disciplines and their conceptualization of the themes we discuss as well as their state of the art. 



Further, students should also be able to

- assess and discuss practical relevance of their analysis for key actors, issues, and problems within and across the organizational and thematic fields addressed by the course.


In carrying out the presentations, projects, and written assignments students demonstrate that they have acquired competencies that allow them to independently

- identify and analyse empirical cases and settings for research on the themes of the course.

Lectures, class discussions, student presentations, exercises and written assignments based on the readings. The presentations include project work (either individually or in groups). Students are expected to contribute actively to discussion of core theoretical-analytical tools as well as the more specific analytical examples and case studies.

In their written assignments, including the free, written, take-home essay, students are expected to identify their own analytical questions and demonstrate their capacity to critically assess and analyse empirical data based on the examples and case studies we discuss in class. Students should also expect to review literature and assess empirical data besides the course texts. Aspects of conducting literature reviews within the relevant field of research will be taught and trained.

Readings include peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, NGO and civil society or migrants’ publications, literary narratives and digital media storytelling, newspaper articles and videos. Students are required to read approximately 600-700 pages.
Students are also expected to choose supplementary reading materials for their presentations, projects, and written assignments (approximately 300 pages).

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 90
  • Exam
  • 60
  • English
  • 206