Is the Problem of European Citizenship a Problem of Social Citizenship? Social Policy, Federalism, and Democracy in the EU and United States


  • The author would like to thank Chad Goldberg, Joe Soss, Jonathan Zeitlin, Anne Kaufman, and the participants at the 11th Annual Georgetown University BMW Center for German and European Studies Graduate Student Conference for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Please direct correspondence to: Carly Elizabeth Schall, Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt University; tel.: 615-322-7626; fax: 615-322-7505; e-mail:


The development of supranational (European) social rights, and therefore social citizenship, is undermined by strong, direct relationships between citizens and national welfare states. Social policies contribute to national identities because they entail direct relationships between states and citizens. In well-developed European welfare states strong relationships between citizens and their member-states are expected. This may prevent the development of a similar relationship at the European level. The U.S. provides a comparison case, wherein a successful transference of citizenship identity from a lower to higher level has occurred, partly as a result of the building of national-level social citizenship, at least for certain classes of people. Revolutionary War Pensions provide an example of how social policy influences national identity. The lack of EU-level social policy precludes the possibility of this type of identity formation. Finally, the interplay of social citizenship and democracy in both cases is explored. T.H. Marshall’s work regarding citizenship as the basis for democracy is used to understand how the inability to create a common social policy in the EU is harmful to democracy.