Becoming a Citizen in the United States and Canada: Structured Mobilization and Immigrant Political Incorporation

Bloemraad, Irene
December 2006
Social Forces;Dec2006, Vol. 85 Issue 2, p667
Academic Journal
This article uses the puzzle of diverging trajectories of immigrant citizenship in the United States and Canada to build a new approach to the study of citizenship and political incorporation. I consider three existing models of citizenship: an approach that considers citizenship adoption as the product of cost/benefit calculations; an approach that understands individuals and groups to be differentially endowed with the skills, resources and interests necessary to acquire citizenship; and an approach that believes countries adopt citizenship regimes which either include or shut out immigrants. I then offer an alternative model of structured mobilization which views political incorporation as a social process of mobilization by friends, family, community organizations and local leaders that is embedded in an institutional context shaped by government policies of diversity and newcomer settlement. The material and symbolic resources provided by government shape the ability and interest of "social helpers" to assist with and mobilize around citizenship. The article concludes by considering the implications of structured mobilization for various debates in immigration and political sociology.


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