OPEN FORUM: Similar Procedures, Divergent Function: Citizenship Tests in the United States, Canada, Netherlands and United Kingdom

Mario Peucker

Read this article 

Countries with entirely different policies and traditions of integration and naturalisation have introduced citizenship tests as a core element of their naturalisation procedures. Contrary to prevailing findings these developments do not necessarily indicate a growing resemblance between country-specific understandings of integration and citizenship. Comparative analysis of the naturalisation procedures in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom illustrates that similar citizenship tests can serve entirely different purposes. They can strive to ensure the new citizens’ loyalty to the country or to promote their integration, but can also make citizenship less accessible. Citizenship tests per se constitute an abstract political tool whose functions can only be understood within a specific political framework. Although their immediate impact seems generally overrated in the political discourse, they can play a forceful indirect role in the integration process – as an encouraging invitation or a deterring hurdle. 

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article: 

Peucker, Mario, OPEN FORUM Similar Procedures, Divergent Function: Citizenship Tests in the United States, Canada, Netherlands and United Kingdom. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2008, vol.10, no.2, pp. 240-261, UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

About the author: 

Mario Peucker works as a researcher at the European Forum for Migration Studies, a research institute at the University of Bamberg (Germany). Since 2005 he has been project coordinator of the German National Focal Point within the European Information Network RAXEN (Racism and Xenophobia Information Network; coordinated by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights); and since 2004 a member of the European Network of Excellence International Immigration, Integration and Social Cohesions in Europe (IMISCOE). His publications and main fields of research are ethnic discrimination, exclusion and integration processes and policies in Europe. He holds a university degree in educational sciences, sociology and psychology. E-mail: mario.peucker(at)

Back to top