The UK citizenship process: political integration or marginalization?

Publication type

Journal Article

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David Bartram

Publication date


The UK ‘citizenship process’ subjects immigrants to requirements ostensibly intended to enhance their identification with ‘British values’. Policy-makers suggest the policy will facilitate immigrants’ integration: as they learn about ‘life in the UK’, they will become better able to understand and navigate core institutions. Many external observers, by contrast, believe that the requirements exacerbate immigrants’ marginalization. I use panel data from ‘Understanding Society’ to investigate political participation among non-citizen immigrants at Wave 1, comparing those who became citizens by Wave 6 to those who remained non-citizens. Those who became citizens subsequently reported lower interest in politics, relative to those who remained non-citizens; in addition, they were not more likely to be active in organizations (e.g. political parties and trade unions). These findings reinforce the concerns of critics: the UK citizenship policy appears to do more to alienate new citizens than it does to facilitate their integration in the political sphere.

Volume and page numbers

53, 671-688





Politics, Social Exclusion, Social Inclusion, Migration, Public Policy, Ethnic Groups, Societies, Social Capital and Sociology


Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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