Major and Classification
Ange-Marie Hancock, Ph.D
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
“Ethnic Homogeneity or Birthright Citizenship: The ideology of Citizenship in Japan, the U.S., and France”
Scholars have long been interested in the socioeconomic factors that influence national citizenship; however few academics have addressed how ideologies about birthright citizenship and ethnic homogeneity can also determine a nation-state’s citizenship policy. The ideologies of Japan, the United States, and France have influenced not only their citizenship policies, but also how well they integrate ethnic groups into their nation-state. Japan’s support for ethnic homogeneity has historically excluded many foreigners, allowing their country to maintain a homogenous national identity. In the United States, its open policy of birthright citizenship has fostered a multi-ethnic country where minorities aren’t integrated into the national identity. France, which also has a policy of birthright citizenship, maintains the strong national identity that Japan possesses while still integrating their citizens in a way the United States is unsuccessful at achieving. This project provides a cross-regional comparative analysis that addresses the ideologies of each nation-state. The French model acknowledges the importance of ethnic integration into a national identity. To support this argument, a historical analysis of each country’s citizenship policies, government documents, and studies on ethnic integration was conducted from the nineteenth century to the present. From the evidence gathered, ideologies about ethnic homogeneity and birthright citizenship individually have not been successful at providing programs for integration in the United States and Japan. It is when a nation-state removes ethnic ideology, allows birthright citizenship, and assimilates ethnic groups into the nation-state–as does France–a policy of civic homogeneity is created. Understanding that the presence of ethnic groups in democratic nation-states cannot be ignored necessitates more inclusive citizenship policies such as the one offered by France. This research elevates the internal discussion within nation-states about how to incorporate ethnic groups to a comparative level, shedding light on more effective integration policies.