Three Models of Political Membership: Delineating 'The People in Question'

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In her timely monograph, The People in Question, Jo Shaw provides a much-needed critical comparative review of the complex interactions between citizenship and constitutional law. In this essay, I argue that, despite its emphasis upon citizenship’s essentially contested nature, Shaw’s latest work contains rich moral commitments and an important caution against uncritically eliding ‘full citizenship’ with ‘political membership’ more broadly construed. To establish these claims, I present a tripartite taxonomy of approaches to defining ‘the people’ based, respectively, upon the concepts of status, subjugation, and duty. I claim that Shaw’s incisive analysis demonstrates perfectly why we should avoid placing undue reliance upon ‘status-based’ models of community membership and conclude by advancing an original, alternative, and hybridised model of ‘the people in question’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565–583
Number of pages19
JournalOxford Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Constitutional Theory
  • Citizenship
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Political Theory
  • Public International Law

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