04:00 PM

The Political Theory of Citizenship: Responsibility and Membership

A conversation between

Dr Christine Hobden, Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Public Governance, Wits School of Governance, University of Witwatersrand


Prof. Dr. Svenja Ahlhaus , Assistant Professor in Political Theory, Institute of Political Science, University of Münster

Ahlhaus’ Boundaries of the Demos (Campus, 2020) tackles the question of membership of democratic citizenries. While there are extensive public debates around who gets membership, the fact that there is a “we” who are entitled to decide about “our” borders appears to be an indisputable assumption within these debates. Against this assumption, Ahlhaus argues that membership decisions should be made jointly by citizens and non-citizens; political communities should involve outsiders in the decision-making process when it comes to questions of membership policy.

Hobden’s Citizenship in a Globalised World (Routledge, 2021) focuses on citizenship responsibility. It asks what it would mean to live a state-based citizenship justly in our interconnected and unjust world. Hobden conceptualizes and motivates for a state-based, but globally-oriented conception of citizenship. Democratic citizens, on this view, have a collective responsibility to hold their state accountable to act justly, both domestically and internationally.

Following the format of an informal conversation, Hobden and Ahlhaus will introduce the core arguments of their books and, from the perspectives of their respective theories, discuss pressing contemporary issues of democratic citizenship, ranging from democratic decision making, citizen inequality, and responsibility for state action to migration, boundary-making, and diaspora politics. The conversation will seek to explore too the starting points, motivations, and methods of these two books rooted within different intellectual traditions of political theory but with a shared aim of offering insight and normative goals for democratic citizenship today.

This event is by invitation only.If you are interested, please contact us at event@hias-hamburg.de