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Traditions of Nationhood or Political Conjuncture?

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If migration studies in the 1990s were marked by the predominance of the “national models” approach, the early 2000s have seen an increasing rebuttal to this approach. This paper contributes to the debate by examining the politics of citizenship in Germany and Canada, two countries that are usually located at opposing poles of the “national models of immigration and citizenship continuum”. The paper combines inductive process tracing and discourse analysis to examine some of the most controversial citizenship legislation in both countries: Optionspflicht [the duty to choose] in Germany and the “first generation limitation” in Canada. Overall, the analysis presented agrees with recent critiques of the national models approach in migration studies. However, and in contrast to the latter, it maintains that national trajectories — rather than models — provide a cognitive matrix into which policy changes and their justifications need to be inserted.


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Correspondence to Elke Winter.

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  • Germany
  • Canada
  • citizenship
  • integration
  • national models
  • ethnic/civic nation
  • dual citizenship