In this latest installment of his effort to articulate a comprehensive framework for understanding civic membership and realistically achievable, normatively desirable principles for the relationship between people and political groupings demanding allegiance against other groups, Rogers M. Smith weighs, digests, synthesizes, refines, reflects, theorizes, and proposes. The core political question of “who governs” (p. 6) raises foundational questions concerning “who can make authoritative decisions within [the group] and who can belong to it” (p. 7). Answering these requires studying “the processes through which groups are constructed, maintained, challenged, and changed” (p. 8). Smith’s theoretical preoccupation here is with “coercively constituted identities” (p. 263). His policy preoccupation is with immigrants and refugees and those positioned to welcome, manage, or exclude them.
Smith starts by defining and theorizing the full spectrum of “weak and narrow” to “strong and wide” conceptions of political peoplehood, including, but not limited to, nationalisms (p. 39). These “are not natural . . . [but] created by asymmetrical interactions between potential leaders and . . . members.” “[B]oth . . . have agency”—they are engaged in an “always ongoing
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