Dissertation Abstracts

Encountering Bureaucracy, Imaginaries, and Address: Understanding Citizenship through Lived Lives

Author: Anna Tsalapatanis, anna.tsalapatanis@anu.edu.au
Department: School of Sociology
University: The Australian National University, Australia
Supervisor: Dr. David Bissell
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Citizenship , Lived Lives , Encounter , Bureaucracy
Areas of Research: Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations , Migration , Political Sociology


The vast majority of approaches to ‘citizenship as status’ see the concept as static and often use binary modes of categorisation and analysis, such as that between citizen and non-citizen. These accounts are problematic on several fronts; firstly, they obscure the diversity of encounters that occur in the context of citizenship, and secondly, they regard the concept as relatively unchanging. By focusing on the ways that citizenship is encountered within lived lives, this thesis provides a novel approach to the study of citizenship that can better grasp the fluidity as well as the transformative capacities of the emergent encounters that make up individuals’ ongoing negotiations of citizenship. Using fifty in-depth qualitative interviews conducted in Australia and Greece with multiple citizenship status holders, I interrogate the ways in which encounters with bureaucracy, imaginaries and acts of imagination, as well as encounters of address, create, shape, and rupture conceptions of citizenship as status. More specifically, by applying an alternative methodological approach and highlighting the role of both repetition and rupture, this thesis illustrates, in the first instance, how these transformative encounters with bureaucracy are more than just ‘gates’ that one passes through, but how they resonate far beyond their immediate contexts. Secondly, in building on the literature on the subject of imaginaries, I consider the diversity of ways in which citizenship comes to be imagined, and the importance of seeing these acts of imagination as both personal and collective, while retaining the possibilities of non-determinist outcomes. Finally, I interrogate the role and impact of addressing and being addressed in the context of citizenship, and the ways that these speech acts come to situate us within the world, but also how they account, at least in part, for the ceaseless transformations of citizenship itself. This thesis illustrates how it is through such ongoing and personal negotiations, that citizenship emerges within lived lives.

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