Everyday Citizenship: Identity Claims and Their Reception
School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Stephen D. Reicher
School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Wendy van Rijswijk
School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom; School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Citizenship involves being able to speak and be heard as a member of the community. This can be a formal right (e.g., a right to vote). It can also be something experienced in everyday life. However, the criteria for being judged a fellow member of the community are multiple and accorded different weights by different people. Thus, although one may self-define alongside one’s fellows, the degree to which these others reciprocate depends on the weight they give to various membership criteria. This suggests we approach everyday community membership in terms of an identity claims-making process in which first, an individual claims membership through invoking certain criteria of belonging, and second, others evaluate that claim. Pursuing this logic we report three experiments investigating the reception of such identity-claims. Study 1 showed that in Scotland a claim to membership of the national ingroup was accepted more if couched in terms of place of birth and ancestry rather than just in terms of one’s subjective identification. Studies 2 and 3 showed that this differential acceptance mattered for the claimant’s ability to be heard as a community member. We discuss the implications of these studies for the conceptualization of community membership and the realization of everyday citizenship rights.