Assessments of citizenship criteria: are immigrants more liberal?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The literature on citizenship policies is flourishing, yet we know little of which naturalisation requirements majorities and minorities find reasonable, and how they view existing citizenship regimes. Drawing on original survey data with young adults in Norway (N = 3535), comprising immigrants and descendants with origins from Iraq, Pakistan, Poland, Somalia and Turkey, as well as a nonimmigrant majority group, this article examines whether perceptions of ideal citizenship criteria and assessments of Norway’s current rules differ between groups. In terms of ideal citizenship criteria, we find a striking similarity across groups when looking at six different dimensions of citizenship policy. When merged into an index and estimated in a multivariate regression model, we find that both immigrants and descendants are significantly more liberal than natives are, yet the differences are small. When assessing the semi-strict citizenship regime in Norway, we find that immigrants are significantly more positive towards the current rules than natives. The results lend little support to recent work on ‘strategic’ and ‘instrumental’ citizenship and point instead to a close to universal conception of the terms of membership acquisition in Norway. This suggests that states may operate with moderate integration requirements while maintaining the legitimacy of the citizenship institution.