Essentialism in Social Representations of Citizenship: An Analysis of Greeks' and Migrants' Discourse
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Following a Social Representations approach, the article examines the representations of citizenship held by both migrants and Greek citizens in Greece after the announcement of a heavily debated citizenship legislation. Essentialism, a way of representing social categories as holding an underlying essence that determines their characteristics, was used as an analytical tool to understand the inclusive or exclusive function of representations of citizenship towards migrants. Findings showed that Greeks construct representations based on ethnic, civic, and cultural ideas, while migrants construct representation of citizenship based on civic and cultural ideas. Essentialism was a way of constructing ethnic and cultural representations of citizenship and functioned in both exclusive and inclusive ways, but assimilatory terms accordingly. Civic and cultural representations of citizenship were constructed in nonessentialist ways and functioned in inclusive ways. However, from Greeks' perspective, civic inclusion was conditioned upon an often-questioned legality of migrants and upon cultural assimilation terms. Studying both the content and the essentialist/nonessentialist formulation of representations of citizenship is an important tool in understanding the politics of inclusion and exclusion of citizens in the social arena. © 2015 International Society of Political Psychology.