ARENA Working Papers
WP 99/3



(Regional) Norms and (Domestic) Social Mobilization: Citizenship Politics in Post-Maastricht, Post-Cold War Germany*

Jeffrey T. Checkel**
ARENA, University of Oslo


This paper considers changing norms of citizenship and membership in post-Maastricht, post-Cold War Europe. Empirically, I contrast the domestic impact of two European-level influences: the European citizenship provisions contained in the Treaty on European Union, and several Council of Europe treaties that address broader issues of national membership (citizenship, minority rights, naturalization). For reasons of both design and empirical importance, I focus on only one country -- the Federal Republic of Germany. My central research question is to ask what effects the prescriptions embodied in these norms have at the agent level in Germany.

The essay has five parts. I begin by briefly describing my case -- the debate over citizenship and membership in contemporary Germany. Second, I review recent work by constructivists and students of transnational social movements, with my argument being that regional norms play two key roles at the national level: mobilizing instrumentally motivated social groups and agents; and promoting social learning among puzzling or “novice” actors. The literature has largely neglected this latter dynamic. After briefly discussing issues of research design and methods, I -- fourth -- apply this argument to the Federal Republic. In the conclusion, I situate my theoretical/empirical results within ongoing debates over the role(s) of European institutions, constructivism and its relation to rational choice, and German identity.


This paper asks whether and in what ways “europeanization” -- in my case, the development of new norms at the European level -- affects politics within states. Most scholars would agree that such collective understandings can have two very different national-level effects. On the one hand, they can provide domestic agents and actors with new understandings of interests and identities; this view, of course, is favored by social constructivists. Yet, it is equally plausible that norms may simply constrain the choices and behaviors of self-interested agents with given identities, a view that virtually all rational-choice scholars readily endorse (see also Klotz, 1995b: chapter 2). In exploring the impact of European norms on the politics of German national identity, I argue that both “schools” are right: Norms sometimes constitute, and sometimes constrain.

Why this approach, and, for that matter, why the focus on norms? On the former, my premise is that an empirically based rational-choice/social-constructivist dialogue is long overdue. Too many constructivists and students of transnational advocacy movements, like all too many rationalists, are method driven: They ignore the obvious empirical fact that not all aspects of social reality and interaction can be captured by their preferred approach. Moreover, it is theoretically unproductive and empirically false to divide social interaction into two neat phases: an early one where actors discover their interests (constructivism); and a later phase where those same agents maneuver strategically in pursuit of these -- now fixed -- interests (rational choice). While such a “division of labor” thesis may be appealing as it makes everyone happy, it will have the unfortunate effect of truncating the type of dialogue favored here. [1]

The focus on European norms is motivated by two factors. Theoretical logic suggests that contemporary Western Europe, with its institutionally “thick” environment, is a most likely case for norms to emerge and diffuse (Weber, 1994; and, more generally, Risse-Kappen, 1995: chapter 1). A second factor is my own frustration with the literature on European integration, the majority of which has explicit or, more common, implicit, rationalist underpinnings; this has led to an unjustified neglect of the causal role played by social norms (Joergensen, 1997; Checkel, 1999c). [2]

Citizenship and Membership in the Federal Republic of Germany

As in many European states, recent years have seen a heated debate over citizenship and broader issues of membership (rights of national minorities, immigration) in Germany. While such debates have occurred before, the present one is qualitatively different in two respects. Domestically, it is broad-ranging and includes an array of actors -- elite decisionmakers, Bundestag deputies, representatives from the church and trade unions, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and immigrants themselves. Internationally, Germany is debating fundamental reforms to its citizenship/membership laws at a time when regional institutions -- in particular, the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CE) -- have taken a renewed interest in such questions. Thus, if it was ever possible to analyze national debates over membership in isolation, this is certainly not the case today.

Within these new domestic and international contexts, the German discussion centers on two questions. First and at a practical level, the issue is how and to what degree the country’s citizenship laws should be reformed. While most politicians, analysts and activists are in agreement that change is needed, the devil is in the details. For example, should German law incorporate greater elements of jus soli, where citizenship is based on birthplace and not blood? Should immigrants be allowed to retain their former nationality when they acquire that of Germany (so-called “dual citizenship”)? Opinion is sharply divided on these and other matters (“Misstrauen gegen unbekannt,” Der Spiegel, January 11, 1999, for recent survey results).

Second, underlying this practical/legal debate is a more basic one, which addresses fundamental notions of how Germans, collectively, view their nation-state. Conceptions of citizenship, by their very nature, create boundaries. Who is a member of the national collectivity? Who is not? At core, answers to these questions revolve around degrees of inclusion/exclusion. Do Germans view the boundaries of their collectivity/state in terms more ethnic (blood) or civic (territorial)? In a crucial sense, then, the current debate is about much more than changes to law and administrative practice -- although, these are certainly important. Rather, it is about the dominant shared understandings -- norms -- of what it means to be German, and whether these need to be changed.

Norms, Social Protest and Social Learning

So, norms matter. In itself, such a statement is of little use -- for everything can matter. The challenge is to think systematically about the mechanisms and processes that link European norms, my cut at Europeanization, with the domestic arena. In other words, how does the norm get from “out there” -- the European level -- to “down here” -- the domestic arena, where -- potentially -- it affects both policymaking and social mobilization? [3]

To have a causal impact, European norms must be empowered in the domestic arena, that is, they must constrain the behavior, or change the interests of some agent or group. Norm empowerment directs our attention to early stages in policymaking. Here, the issue is not so much compliance with well-established regime norms (Mueller, 1993) or whether they have become so internalized as to be taken for granted (March and Olsen, 1989), but how norms first have effects -- an important consideration given my focus on newly emergent European-level understandings. This requires exploration of the transmission mechanism or diffusion pathway through which norms reach the domestic level.

Specifically, I define empowerment as occurring when the prescriptions embodied in a norm become, through changes in discourse or behavior, a focus of domestic political contention or debate (Adler and Haas, 1992: 375-78; Kratochwil, 1989; Klotz, 1995b: chapter 2). Empowerment involves elite decisionmakers and possibly other societal actors as well. Put more carefully, actions by state policymakers, be it changes in their discourse or behavior, are a necessary but not always sufficient condition for empowerment to occur (Bachrach and Baratz, 1963).

A review of the broader political science, sociology, transnational advocacy movements and international law literatures reveals two different diffusion mechanisms that empower norms domestically: one is a “bottom-up” process, while the other is “top-down.” The former comes in two variants. A first argues that domestic social actors (NGOs, trade unions or the like), in relative isolation from broader transnational ties, exploit international norms to generate pressure on state decisionmakers. Here, empirical examples are typically drawn from the industrialized West, with the argument apparently being that these well established and, in some cases, militarily powerful states are less susceptible to transnational pressures (Cortell and Davis, 1996 [on the US]; and Moravcsik, 1995 [on West Europe]).

Recently, a second, more sophisticated variant of the bottom-up dynamic has been elaborated. In this case, non-state actors and policy networks, at both the national and transnational level, are united in their support for norms; they then mobilize and coerce decisionmakers to change state policy. Norms are typically not internalized by the elites. The activities of Greenpeace exemplify this political pressure mechanism (Nadelmann, 1990; Charney, 1993: 543-550; Sikkink, 1993a; Brysk, 1993; Klotz, 1995a; Idem, 1995b; Wapner, 1995; Ron, 1997; Hawkins, 1997; Keck and Sikkink, 1998: passim; “A Survey of Human-Rights Law,” Economist, December 5, 1998; Risse, Ropp and Sikkink, 1999).

This newer work is truly state of the art in that it has generated novel insights at both the theoretical and empirical levels. Yet, it contains a three-fold bias against the state and state decisionmakers. Normatively, elite policymakers are portrayed as “bad”; empirically, they are viewed as passive and reactive; ontologically, they are viewed solely as calculating agents. Consider the forthcoming Risse, Ropp and Sikkink volume on the transnational diffusion of human rights norms. Their starting point is the “boomerang” model (Keck and Sikkink, 1998: chapter 1), whereby recalcitrant state elites are caught in a vise of transnational and domestic social mobilization. Here, the preferences of elites do not change at early stages; however, their behavior and strategies do. Temporally expanding the model, Risse, et al, argue that at later points in the process (perhaps five years to a decade), elites become less reactive and, indeed, learn new preferences. While, analytically, this is an important step forward, it is unclear to me why state decisionmakers get to play this (more intelligent) role only after an initial “softening up” by networks and activists (Risse and Sikkink, 1999; see also Keck and Sikkink, 1998: 3, 28-29). [4]

These two variants on the bottom-up mechanism have received more attention in studies of norm diffusion. In part, this is understandable. The shaming activities of Greenpeace or Amnesty International, say, are very much in the public and scholarly eye, and undoubtedly play a major role empowering norms. Yet, it sets up an implicit and unfortunate dichotomy between the good activists, civil-society entrepreneurs, network activists or NGOs, and the bad state, be it bureaucrats or elite decisionmakers. The danger in such a dichotomy is not only empirical (missing other possible normative effects at the national level), but theoretical and ontological. On the former, it replicates the unhelpful either/or distinctions made in the early literature on transnational politics (Keohane and Nye, 1971; see, however, Risse-Kappen, 1995). Ontologically, it overlooks the obvious empirical fact that political agents do not simply or always power; they also puzzle -- a point made so eloquently by Heclo over a quarter century ago (Heclo, 1974).

In fact, the broader literature points to just such dynamic in what I call the top-down diffusion mechanism. In this case, social learning, not political pressure, leads agents -- typically elite decisionmakers -- to adopt prescriptions embodied in norms, which become internalized and constitute a set of shared intersubjective understandings that make behavioral claims. This process appears to be based on notions of complex learning drawn from cognitive and social psychology, where individuals, when exposed to the prescriptions embodied in norms, adopt new interests (Haas, 1990; Idem, 1992; Soysal, 1994; Stein, 1994; Finnemore, 1996; Robert Herman, “Identity, Norms and National Security: The Soviet Foreign Policy Revolution and the End of the Cold War,” in Katzenstein, 1996: chapter 8; Wendt, 1996: chapters 7-8; Checkel, 1997a: chapter 5). [5]

In sum, international/regional norms play two causally important roles in domestic politics. They heighten levels of social mobilization and contention, as societal actors exploit them to pressure elites and reframe the terms of debate (see also Tarrow, 1998a: chapter 7, on the creation of “collective action frames”); in the jargon, they “empower.” However, norms may also “teach old dogs new tricks,” as they help agents discover or learn what, precisely, their preferences are in the first place. When these agents are state elites, such learning may “re-empower” them as well, as their cognitive horizons expand.

Now, admittedly, the analytic challenge is to disentangle these two -- very differing -- dynamics. This requires the elaboration of so-called scope or boundary conditions, a point to which I return in the conclusion. At this point, I simply wish to document their presence in an important empirical case of Europeanization.

Case Selection and Methods

In a larger work-in-progress, I document and explain how the two diffusion mechanisms identified above, which link European norms to processes of domestic change, vary in a systematic way across polities with differing institutional structures: post-Soviet Russia, independent Ukraine and unified Germany (see Checkel, 1997b, for initial results). Here, I focus only on Germany, and do so for three reasons. Theoretically, as already argued, it is a most likely case for international-regional norms to have a domestic impact; given my interest in studying the role of norms at the national level, the German focus thus makes sense. Methodologists may find this case selection strategy problematic. Good theory testing standards suggest that one pick “tough cases,” where the theory is likely to be shown true, only if it really is true. Such a strategy works best where the extant body of literature is relatively mature and advanced; however, as indicated earlier, theoretical work on the diffusion mechanisms linking systemic norms to domestic polities is at an early stage. Thus, I have purposely chosen a case (Germany in post-Cold War Europe) where normative diffusion should be at work; this more readily allows me to establish the plausibility of my argument (see also George, 1979, on “plausibility probes”).

Empirically, my hunch was that German identity, contra arguments advanced by a number of scholars (Keohane, 1993: chapter 1; Risse et al, 1997, for example), would be resilient and relatively stable. This suspicion was based on nothing more than a reading of the specialist literature on the country, which stressed its deeply rooted ethnic conception of citizenship. As my fieldwork progressed, this hunch became an empirical reality; in turn, this increased the appeal of an initial focus on Germany. From a methodological perspective, it was a case where “the dog didn't bark” -- that is, where norms diffuse and are deeply contested in the domestic arena. For constructivist and integration literatures that too often have only considered cases where norms or Europeanization “work,” my German study should thus also be valuable.

Practically, given my process-tracing method and its attendant data requirements, it simply would not be possible to fit five cases (three countries, plus the evolution of two sets of European-level norms) into one paper. The resulting analysis would be stretched too thin, leading readers to question the validity of my results.

Regarding methods, my argument dictates a two-step research methodology. First, I document the existence of European norms on national membership and establish whether the development of such norms correlates with domestic policy debates or changing state practice. Second, to move beyond correlations, I utilize a process-tracing technique to describe the multiple pathways through which these norms diffuse and affect domestic politics.

On regional norms, an important methodological challenge is to develop techniques for determining that such understandings, independent of any domestic effects, have evolved and become sufficiently robust to attain prescriptive status -- that is, make behavioral claims on actors. I employ two: textual and discursive analysis. (These are operationalized in the Council of Europe sub-section below.)

At the national level, my primary method is in-depth interviews. In all instances, I utilized a similar interview protocol, with my questions being designed to tap an individual's basic beliefs about citizenship and what motivated him/her to hold them. On the latter, I gave interviewees several possibilities, including answers that addressed the role of regional norms, materialist incentives (easing citizenship might allow more immigrants to access a decreasing social-welfare pie), and identity concerns (easing citizenship would dilute or change the “Germanness” of the country).

As a supplement and check on the interview data, I carry out a content analysis of major media -- German, in this case. This not only allowed for checking the beliefs and motivations of particular individuals (when that person was both an interviewee and participant in public debates); equally important, it helped me determine the general public discourse about citizenship. Together, these two methods allow for a degree of triangulation when assessing the content of norms and normative effects (see also Raymond, 1997: 219-222).

Citizenship and Membership in Germany: Post-Maastricht and Post-Cold War

In this section, I first establish the degree to which it is even possible to talk about European citizenship norms. Next, I assess the fit between these norms and German conceptions of identity, establishing a baseline and context for the social mobilization and learning documented in the section’s last two parts.

European Norms. When examining the development of European understandings on citizenship and membership, one is immediately struck by their tentative, incipient nature. Indeed, at best one can speak of emergent norms and understandings on these issues. Moreover, Brussels-centered students of Europeanization might be surprised to know it, but much of the more substantive and interesting work in this area has occurred elsewhere, in Strasbourg -- at the Council of Europe.

I begin by considering recent Council work on membership and then examine the Maastricht treaty's provisions for a European citizenship. I argue that while the CE treaties contain minimal normative guidance, Maastricht's conception of citizenship is nearly devoid of such prescriptions. The difference is explained by the ability of member states to dominate the agenda-setting and negotiation that led to Maastricht's concept of European citizenship, while, in Strasbourg, activists and entrepreneurs, at least initially, were able to dominate the European-level process.

Post-Cold War: Council of Europe. Questions of membership -- rights of immigrants and ethnic minorities -- have become central to the construction of national identity in post-Cold War Europe. Laws on citizenship and national minorities create fundamental categories and distinctions; they define who is a member of a national community. Is the membership principle jus sanguinis (citizenship passed along blood lines) or jus soli (citizenship accorded to anyone born on state territory)? What rights do states grant to foreigners and migrants? Are they viewed as citizens-in-waiting or aliens? How are national minorities treated? Are they urged to assimilate or is their separateness recognized? All these issues have been matters of public debate in a wide range of European countries in recent years (Hayden, 1992; Verdery, 1993; Jones, 1994; Brubaker, 1989).

In contrast with the EU's work on citizenship, much of the impetus behind this debate, as well as specific proposals for change, came from the scholarly community and non-governmental organizations with interests in citizenship and immigrant/minority rights. These discussions have advanced to the point where specific propositions -- for example, on the desirability of dual citizenship -- have gained wide backing (Miller, 1989; Hammar, 1989; Hannum, 1991; Bauboeck and Cinar, 1994; Bauboeck, 1994).

Moreover, proponents of such arguments have linked them to the norms of the European human rights regime centered on the Council of Europe. Far from being a passive player in this process, the Council has sought actively to influence it, seeking to create shared understandings of citizenship and the rights of immigrants and minorities -- the common social categories that are a prerequisite for the creation of norms. Indeed, the European rights framework and the Council are considered to be one of the clearest examples of an effective international regime (Donnelly, 1986: 620-24; Sikkink, 1993b; Moravcsik, 1995).

In recent years, the CE has devoted increasing attention to minority rights and citizenship. In December, 1994, it adopted a Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Council of Europe, 1994); in November, 1997, the Council approved a new convention on nationality that addresses issues of citizenship and immigrant rights (Directorate of Legal Affairs, 1997). The former promotes shared understandings regarding the legitimacy of minority rights and identities; until now, such a consensus had never existed at the European level. Council officials see the Framework Convention's most important function precisely as a tool for exerting normative pressure. As one put it, the “important thing is that countries accepting it promise to implement its principles -- and know the spotlight will be turned on them if they fail to do so” (Council of Europe, Forum [December 1994], p.34).

The convention on nationality revises norms on citizenship that were embodied in a 1963 Council-sponsored treaty. On the question of dual citizenship, this earlier treaty had taken a negative view. It privileged state interests: From the vantage point of the state, dual citizenship was bad news, leading to split loyalties and complicating military service obligations.

Seeking to exploit a growing scholarly, NGO and European consensus that multiple nationality is often necessary and desirable, the CE Secretariat drafted a new European Convention on Nationality that privileges individual over state interests and takes a neutral view on dual citizenship. In reality, however, this neutrality, by removing the earlier explicit negative sanction, is designed to pressure states to be more open to multiple nationality.

Do the Framework Convention and Convention on Nationality promote European norms favoring new, more inclusive conceptions of national membership? To answer this question, I used two techniques. One is textual, which meant a careful reading of the various draft treaty texts and, for the nationality convention, a comparison with its 1963 predecessor. Crucial in this regard were the explanatory reports attached to each treaty, which give an insider's view of their evolution. Textual analysis of this sort uncovered areas where shared understandings have emerged.

A second, more important, technique is discursive. Interviewing in Strasbourg and in the various capitals revealed that key aspects of both treaties have acquired a prescriptive, taken-for-granted status as normative understandings. For example, those involved in the negotiations -- CE bureaucrats and national negotiators -- no longer question the legitimacy of minority/group rights in Europe, a concept which is still deeply contested in the broader international arena. Exploitation of this second method was only possible due to extensive field work, which involved four rounds of interviewing over three years. These techniques of textual analysis and in-depth interviews replicate Zuern's (1997: 298-302) excellent suggestions for “using documents” and “asking experts” when one wants to establish actor interests independent of behavior, a methodological challenge analogous to the one faced here. [6]

Thus, by the definition given earlier, these treaties -- and the process that led to their promulgation -- do indeed promote norms, which embody both specific prescriptions and intersubjective agreement. At the same time, their scope should not be overstated. For example, the shared understanding on minority rights is limited to the cultural sphere; on the more contentious issue of political rights (territorial autonomy, say), no normative understanding exists. [7]

The particular negotiating process that led to these two CE treaties explains why, in contrast to the EU/citizenship case, they embody tentative areas of normative agreement. Both treaties were discussed for several years in special “committees of experts” (one on national minorities; the other on nationality) that consisted of CE secretariat officials, state officials and independent analysts. Thus out of the limelight, these groups debated issues extensively; moreover, at early stages, key CE secretariat officials -- for example, former CE Secretary General Laluminiere -- were able to exploit windows of opportunity to promote new normative understandings within the groups (Checkel, 1999c). [8]

In sum, recent years have witnessed the development of an emergent and tentative set of European understandings on questions of membership; these norms are reflected in the two CE treaties discussed above. Given the existence of these norms, one should expect to see normative diffusion at the national level, with the predicted combination of social mobilization and social learning occurring.

Post-Maastricht: European Union. For all the scholarly attention devoted to the European citizenship provisions of the Treaty on European Union (hereafter, TEU or just Maastricht treaty), it is surprising just how little is there -- either in terms of substantive content or prescriptive guidance. Indeed, much of the academic writing is explicitly normative in nature -- complaining of the provisions' limited scope (Twomey, 1994, for example).

The citizenship provisions of the TEU (Part Two, Article 8) articulate minimal political rights (voting in local and European Parliament [EP] elections), while glossing over social and fundamental rights. Moreover, the treaty language on citizenship is devoid of prescriptive guidance on such key issues as the relation between Union citizenship and member-state nationality or fundamental rights (Treaty on European Union, 1993: 119-23).

Conceptually, of course, nationality can be distinguished from citizenship. However, as a practical matter, the latter is inextricably bound up with nationhood and national identity. Maastricht thus presented an opportunity to address this relationship, one that is rapidly changing in contemporary Europe. Yet, the TEU's citizenship provisions are silent on nationality, except to say that European citizenship is available only to individuals who are nationals of EU member states; the latter is defined by member-state nationality laws, which the TEU decisively leaves as a state-level prerogative (O'Leary, 1992; Closa, 1995; Rea, 1995: 179-81).

The utter lack of EU-driven Europeanization on nationality is made clear by a “Declaration on Nationality of a Member State” attached to the Maastricht treaty. This dominance of unchanging state preferences on nationality has a long history in the EC/EU: When the UK and Germany joined the EC, for example, both issued declarations on nationality stating that Brussels, in their opinion, had no competence in this area (Closa, 1995: 510; O'Leary, 1992: 360, respectively).

Regarding fundamental rights, the Commission and European Parliament (EP) had been hoping to include them in Maastricht's conception of Union citizenship. This would have corrected what they saw as the EU's longstanding neglect of basic rights -- most notably, its refusal to ratify the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Once again, however, member-state preferences dominated and Commission proposals to include fundamental rights in Maastricht's citizenship provisions were rejected (O'Leary, 1995: passim; Neuwahl and Rosas, 1995). [9]

Thus, despite persistent agenda-setting efforts by the Commission and the EP, the member-states maintained firm control over development of the TEU's citizenship provisions -- not surprising given how national conceptions of citizenship are such a deeply rooted part of state identity in contemporary Europe. The informal deliberative processes that were key for generating shared understandings in Strasbourg were absent in Brussels. Given these trends, it comes as no surprise that the June 1997 Amsterdam EU Summit, despite its mandate to revise the TEU, had nothing to say about extensions to or modifications of its citizenship provisions (Koslowski, 1994; O'Keeffe, 1994; Closa, 1994; Neuwahl and Rosas, 1995: chapters 1, 7; and, on Amsterdam, Lemke, 1997: 2-3). [10]

Perhaps the future will bring a new round of EU-driven mobilization and Europeanization in this area. Indeed, some analysts go so far as to talk of the “dynamic” and “evolutionary” character of Maastricht's citizenship provisions (O'Keeffe, 1994: 102, for example). Yet, the TEU itself mandates that any further changes will require a unanimous vote within the European Council -- thus minimizing their likelihood (Treaty on European Union, 1993: 123). Moreover, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has often been a key agenda-setter in the Europeanization process (Alter, 1998), will find it difficult to play any such role on citizenship: Fundamental rights and nationality -- central issues in any further elaboration of the TEU's European citizenship -- are notable in Community law only for their absence (O'Leary, 1992: 357; Idem, 1995: 545). [11]

All in all, then, Maastricht's citizenship provisions lack any normative dimension (see also O'Leary, 1995: 548-49, 553). Rather than embodying prescriptive guidance, they are a list of minimal rights and information, which essentially codify, but do not further develop, what was already extent in Community law. At the national level, one would therefore expect few noticeable diffusion effects -- be they through societal mobilization or social learning.

Europeanization and German Citizenship - I: History Matters. The foregoing suggests that European norms on citizenship and membership are evolving. Especially in the case of the Strasbourg-based process, they are moving in a more inclusive direction, with emphasis on broadened understandings of both citizenship and the rights of national minorities; in particular, these CE norms promote inclusion by facilitating dual citizenship. In Germany, dual citizenship would promote the assimilation of the large foreigner population. In most cases, present German law requires immigrants and foreigners to give up their original citizenship if they wish to seek it in Germany; this is an obstacle to integration since many do not wish to sever all ties to their homeland. The importance of dual citizenship for large parts of the foreigner community is so great that they acquire it through illegal methods that contravene German law (Diehl and Urbahn, 1997: section 2; Kreuzer, 1997: 5; Martina Keller, “Einbuergern, Ausbuergern, Einbuergern,” Die Zeit, March 27, 1997; Interview, Kennan Kolat, President, and Safter Cinar, Speaker, Tuerkischer Bund in Berlin/Brandenburg, May 1996).

The lack of fit between these changing regional norms and understandings of identity and citizenship held by many (but not all -- see below) Germans is significant. While there are clear historical reasons why these understandings took hold in Germany, the important point is that they have been reinforced over time and are now rooted in domestic laws and institutions (for background, see Brubaker, 1992: chapters 3-4, 6; Kanstroom, 1993).

Legal and bureaucratic indicators as well as textual analysis and interview data all suggest the embedded nature of these domestic norms. Most important, the German citizenship statute, as of early 1999, continues to be based on a Law on Imperial and State Citizenship that dates from 1913, and an ethnic conception of identity is maintained throughout the German legal system -- notably in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law, the post-war German constitution. Indeed, the ethnic core of the 1913 citizenship law is reproduced in the Basic Law via a so-called “Nationalstaatsprinzip” (the Nation-State Principle), which makes very clear that there is a material core (that is, blood ties) connecting a citizen and his/her nation. As one analyst has noted, this basic principle, despite minor modifications over the years, “remains effective until [the] present” (Kreuzer, 1997: 2). It is thus not surprising that a CDU expert on nationality and citizenship, Rupert Scholz, claims a fundamental, constitutional status for the concept of jus sanguinis (Hailbronner, 1989: 77; Kanstroom, 1993: passim; Koslowski, 1994: 371; Fulbrook, 1994: 233; Leslie, 1996: 5-8). [12]

Developments in German jurisprudence have also promoted the institutionalization of historically constructed understandings of citizenship and identity. Most notably, the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has elaborated what German analysts call the “evil doctrine”: the dictum that “dual nationality is an evil from the national as well as the international viewpoint, and it should be avoided in the interests of citizens and states.” Likewise, in a 1989 ruling which struck down a Laender law on local voting rights for immigrants, the Court insisted it “would be incorrect to claim that the concept of the 'people' in the German constitution had undergone a change due to the drastic rise of the aliens population” (Bauboeck, 1994: 116; Kreuzer, 1997: 1, respectively). [13]

Finally and at a very practical level, it is striking how ethnic and exclusive understandings of identity so often appear as the default mode in public discourse, suggesting their deeply rooted nature. Consider one, important, recent example. In May 1997, Federal President Roman Herzog gave a speech in Berlin dedicated to the opening of the “European Year Against Racism,” an initiative co-sponsored by the European Union and the Council of Europe. A former judge and moderate within the CDU, he clearly intended the speech to be a bridge-building exercise between Germans and the foreigner community within their country.

Herzog warned, in particular, against the danger of stereotyping foreigners as temporary visitors; yet, almost in the same breath, he referred to their status in terms of guests' rights (Gastrechte). This led one young German-born Greek in the audience to heatedly reply that she did not consider herself a guest. Subsequent newspaper editorials harshly criticized Herzog's faux pas: How could one talk about the guest rights of foreigners born in Germany? (“Herzog wuerdigt Rolle der Auslaender,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, March 5, 1997; “Folklore, Gyros, Trallala,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, March 5, 1997).

Why bother with all this history and background? For a simple -- theoretical -- reason: Work on “role conflict” in cognitive/social psychology (Barnett, 1993) and on “cultural matches” in sociology (Meyer and Strang, 1993) strongly suggests that, when one studies the spread of norms, a crucial variable affecting their ability to spark dynamics of contention or learning will be the normative environment into which they diffuse. In particular, for cases like the German one documented above, where there is a degree of mismatch between regional and domestic norms, one should expect heightened levels of normative contestation and a short-circuiting of social learning as agents find themselves in multiple (domestic, regional) institutional settings that evoke conflicting roles. At a cognitive level, greater numbers of these agents should experience framing and dissonance problems. [14]

Europeanization and German Citizenship - I I: Pressures from Strasbourg. In this sub-section, I organize my case material in terms of the two diffusion mechanisms identified earlier.

Social Pressure. Recent years have witnessed an explosion of societal interest in questions of citizenship and the situation of foreigners in Germany, with key roles being played by the liberal media, churches, trade unions, grassroots citizens' initiatives, and the commissioners for foreigners' affairs. The activities of foreigners' groups and councils, while important, have been less consequential (for background, see Katzenstein, 1987: chapter 5; Kanstroom, 1993: Part III; Klusmeyer, 1993).

For some, the very existence of such concern and pressure might be surprising. After all, here, one is talking about rights for individuals -- foreigners -- who, for the most part, are non-citizens; by definition, they are disenfranchised (see, however, McClain, 1993). Moreover, with few exceptions -- some local elections, for example -- foreigners and immigrants in Germany have no voting rights. Thus, political parties have few incentives to heed the concerns of these individuals.

Such general arguments, however, overlook a crucial point: the length of time these non-citizens have been present in Germany. Large-scale movements of immigrants began in the late 1950s, when the first guest workers were recruited. Over the past 40 years, they have slowly gained access to the political process through at least three routes. For one, existing and powerful social actors such as the trade unions now consistently support liberalizing changes to Germany's citizenship and naturalization laws. In addition, the churches, another important social group in the German system, have adopted the cause of foreigners as their own. Finally, despite a disenfranchised status as non-citizens, foreigners are increasingly mobilizing to promote their rights (“ZDK sieht Deutschland als Einwanderungsland,” GermNews (DE), January 31, 1996; Konrad Schuller, “Was gut ist fuer Deutschland, ist gut fuer uns alle,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 18, 1996; Interview, Mustafa Cakmakoglu, President, Tuerkische Gemeinde zu Berlin, May 1996).

Having established that societal pressure and mobilization in this policy area is possible, the next step is to document its presence and the extent to which CE/European norms promote and facilitate such activity. One force helping to mobilize pressure from below has been the liberal German press, especially the Hamburg-based Die Zeit. Its analyses of foreigners in Germany has shifted from neutral reporting to near advocacy. Of interest here, the paper's reporters have forcefully promoted dual citizenship as a way to better integrate immigrant groups such as the Turks. In making such arguments, they often point to broader European understandings favoring dual citizenship (Robert Leicht, “Scheinangebot,” Die Zeit, December 2, 1994; Theo Sommer, “Diese Tuerkei zaehlt nicht zu Europa,” Die Zeit, April 7, 1995).

A second societal actor is the churches. In recent years, the governing bodies of the Protestant, Evangelical and Catholic denominations have called for Germany to adopt an immigration and integration policy for its resident foreigners, including acceptance of dual citizenship and a move to greater elements of jus soli in German law. In Berlin, the Evangelical church has produced flyers on dual citizenship (“Handreichung zum Thema: Doppelte Staatsbuergerschaft” [Berlin, 1995]); these make the case for it by referring, among other factors, to emerging European norms and recent work by the Council of Europe. In the best corporatist tradition, the churches have also sought to make their views known by participating in conferences and policy networks on issues of foreigners' rights (Jochen Buchsteiner, “Konzepte, die erst reifen muessen,” Die Zeit, November 18, 1994; Interview, Thomae-Venske, Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, May 1996; GermNews, January 7, 1999).

The broader public -- in the form of a grassroots citizens' initiative -- has been a third social force present in the debate. Seizing upon a policy window created by the surge in anti-foreigner violence that accompanied German unification, a group of activists based in Berlin orchestrated, beginning in 1992, an initiative that was specifically focused on the need for dual citizenship in German law; it gathered over 1 million signatures from a broad array of public figures (“Unser Ziel: 1 Million Unterschriften fuer die doppelte Staatsbuergerschaft” [Berlin, no date]; Interviews, Ismail Kosan, Member of the Berlin Parliament, Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen Fraction, May 1996; Andreas Schulze, Staff Member, Office of F.O. Wolf, German Member of the European Parliament, Berlin, May 1996).

It was a textbook example of how to mobilize public pressure on a specific policy issue. The campaign coordinated its actions with other social actors (specifically, the Evangelical Church), collected signatures from prominent German academics and public figures, and secured free publicity for the initiative in the centrist-liberal German press (Der Spiegel, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Berliner Zeitung, among others).

Moreover, the existence of European understandings favoring inclusive conceptions of citizenship played an important role in the campaign. Signature collectors pointed to the presence of such norms, and, more generally, the initiative distributed an information sheet noting that Germany's refusal to recognize multiple nationality made it “an international exception” (“Informationen zum deutschen Staatsbuergerrecht: Doppelstaatsbuergerschaften” [Berlin, no date]).

A fourth actor playing a role at the societal level is a unit nominally a part of the government: the various commissioners of foreigners' affairs. While there are dozens of such commissioners at all levels of the German polity, two stand out for their importance: the Office of the Federal Government's Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, established in 1978 and headed until late 1998 by Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen; and the Commissioner of Foreigners' Affairs of the Berlin Senat, created in 1981 and directed by Barbara John (Federal Government's Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, No Date; Auslaenderbeauftragte des Senats, 1994; Auslaenderbeauftragte des Senats, 1995a; Interview, Barbara John, Commissioner of Foreigners' Affairs of the Berlin Senat, November 1995, May 1996).

Both units, but especially the one in Berlin, have significant influence at the local level -- for example, working with foreigners' councils and furthering the social integration of immigrants into communities. The office in Berlin, in contrast to the federal one, is also involved in politics, seeking to build policy networks that can advance the rights of immigrants. In playing this political role, John's office makes use of the liberal citizenship policies of several neighboring countries, as well as European norms. On the latter, a brochure distributed by the Berlin office is entitled “Double Citizenship - A European Norm.” John herself is aware of Council of Europe work in this area and is involved in several Council projects (Auslaenderbeauftragte des Senats, 1995a: 21; Idem, 1995b).

Groups formed by immigrants and foreigners themselves are a final societal actor seeking to align domestic conceptions of national membership with emerging European norms. Somewhat surprisingly given their stake in the matter, they have played a marginal role in the national policy debates. One reason is the young age of such organizations. An all-German group promoting the interests of ethnic Turks, for example, was only founded in December 1995 (“Tuerkische Gemeinde in Deutschland E.V. Gegruendet,” Mimeo [Hamburg, no date]). Basic disagreements over goals and strategies among these organizations are a second, and equally important, factor behind the lack of influence. In Berlin, the two main Turkish organizations are sharply divided over a number of issues and do not coordinate their activities (Interviews, Kennan Kolat; Safter Cinar; Mustafa Cakmakoglu; Barbara John). [15]

So, new regional norms have mattered; in particular, they have further accelerated a politics of contention and social mobilization that were already underway. Yet, exactly how, at the agent level, did they matter? My interviewing and fieldwork reveal a mixed picture. In the majority of cases (trade unions, press, churches), these social agents are using CE norms to pursue given ends; they are an additional tool which can be instrumentally used to generate pressure on government policymakers -- a dynamic consistent with the argument found in much of the recent constructivist and transnational advocacy networks literatures. This suggests that the domestic impact of CE norms is here better captured by rationalist arguments.

On the last point, let me be clear. The argument is not that these agents were pursuing material interests. (Although, this may have been true in some cases.) Rather, I am suggesting that the behavioral dynamic was consistent with a so-called “thin” rationalist account, where the goals pursued may be non-material (normative values, say), but the underlying theory of action is still consequentialist – “means-ends” -- in nature (see also Keck and Sikkink, 1998: 5, on “the strategic activity of actors in an intersubjectively structured political universe”; and, especially, Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998: 910, on “strategic social construction”). [16]

Yet, at the same time, several societal actors in Germany have acquired new interests via exposure to Council norms -- through a process of social learning where the underlying dynamic is not in any serious way consequentialist. Such agents are typically newer ones who are thus still developing preferences on the citizenship issue. This was clearly the case with several of the immigrant activists interviewed. They had a general and vague preference for “integration,” but it took exposure to regional norms to give operational content to it -- for example, by seeking integration through the specific mechanism of dual citizenship.

Social Learning. There is evidence of learning from norms among a number of elites and decisionmakers; in several cases, this occurred prior to the social mobilization dynamics sketched above. Put differently, active puzzling by state elites -- and not reactive calculation, as portrayed in most accounts -- is an additional diffusion dynamic at work in the Federal Republic.

Consider Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, former head of the Federal Commissioner's office, and Richard von Weizsaecker, who held the post of Federal President until May 1994. Both have spoken out forcefully for a new understanding of the place of foreigners and minorities in the German state -- in some cases, well before the worst of the anti-foreigner violence occurred. In particular, they called for an easing of naturalization rules, a revocation of laws prohibiting dual nationality, and for a more inclusive, civic conception of German citizenship (Quentin Peel, “German President Urges Easier Citizenship Laws,” Financial Times, December 24, 1992).

With Schmalz-Jacobsen, there is clear evidence of a learning process driven by exposure to broader European understandings. Her office has extensive contacts with governmental units and NGOs addressing citizenship-nationality issues in Great Britain, the Netherlands and several Scandinavian countries. She is aware of Council of Europe work in this area, often making reference to it in Bundestag debates or other public appearances. Germany, Schmalz-Jacobsen argues, must develop a “concept” for immigration and citizenship that is “integrated on a European and international level” (Report by the Federal Government's Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, 1994: 87-88; Interview, Dr. Camelia Sonntag-Volgast, Bundestag Deputy, SDP, August 1995).

More specifically, two types of data support a social learning argument. First, there is the change over time in Schmalz-Jacobsen's understanding of the citizenship/DC issue. While she has long campaigned for foreigners' rights in Germany, Schmalz-Jacobsen now explicitly connects this concern with a broader and changing European context (compare Judy Dempsey, “A Change Foreign to her Nature” [interview with Schmalz-Jacobsen], Financial Times, February 8, 1993; with Report by the Federal Government's Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, 1994). Second, interviews with two advisers confirm that exposure to international/CE work on citizenship has influenced her views (Interviews, Georgios Tsapanos and Michael Schlikker, Office of Federal Government's Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, March, August 1995).

More recently, evidence suggests learning among a new group of elites: the so-called “young, wild ones” in the ruling CDU. This is a group of younger Christian Democratic Bundestag deputies who advocate, contra the wishes of Party elders, major reforms to German citizenship laws. In particular, they favor granting DC, for a limited period of approximately 18 years, to children born in Germany of foreigner parents (Peter Altmaier and Norbert Roettgen, “Die Uhr laeuft: Das Staatsangehoerigkeitsrecht muss noch bis zur Bundestagswahl 98 reformiert werden,” Die Zeit, August 15, 1997 [the authors are leading members of the young, wild ones]; Hans-Joerg Heims, “Beruhigungspillen fuer die jungen Wilden: Der Streit um die doppelte Staatsangehoerigkeit spaltet die CDU,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, April 23, 1997).

Why this behavior? As they are politicians, an obvious explanation would be instrumental self-interest: It is a way of advancing their political careers within the party. However, leading CDU figures still vehemently oppose any move toward DC, with former Chancellor Kohl recently declaring that “if we were to yield on the question of double citizenship, then in a short time we would have not three million, but four, five or six million Turks in our land” (Helmut Loelhoeffel, “Koalition vertagt ihren Streit,” Frankfurter Rundschau, October 31, 1997). Tellingly, the Chancellor made this angry statement at a meeting of the CDU Youth Union, where the young, wild ones enjoy a measure of support. Career advancement thus does not seem to explain their actions (see also “Ich mache mir keine illusionen” [interview with Wolfgang Schaeuble, Kohl’s successor as CDU head], Die Zeit, January 7, 1999).

A more likely explanation is learning from emerging norms. In their own writings and interviews, the wild ones and their supporters in the Party argue that they are seeking to bring German policy into line with “European standards”; in a similar fashion, they claim to be “fitting German citizenship law to the European context.” Altmaier and Roettgen, two of the group's leaders, refer to extensive discussions with foreigners organizations and churches and how these exchanges have influenced their views on DC. And, as noted earlier, it is precisely immigrant NGOs and churches who have played key roles in diffusing changing European norms on DC to the Federal Republic (“Hilflose Parlaments-Mehrheit,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, October 28, 1997; Horst Eylmann, “Es gibt keine nationale Blutgruppe,” Die Zeit, April 18, 1997; and “Schnellere Beratungen gefordert: Juengere Abgeordnete zur Novellierung des Staatsangehoerigkeitsrechts,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 16, 1996, where Altmaier and Roettgen refer specifically to discussions with foreigners' groups). [17]

Yet, for each instance of learning of this sort at the state level, one finds many cases of “non-learning” as well. That is, other elite players have a radically different conception of German identity, a much more exclusive one that appears heavily shaped by dominant domestic norms; in turn, these hinder and slow any learning process. This is seen in two ways. First, opponents of change often cast their arguments in terms of “Germanness” and “national identity,” sometimes explicitly referring to the 1913 citizenship statute. Some might claim this is simply political posturing, where notions of identity are invoked as a cover for self interest. In this case, there are problems with such an argument. It is not at all clear whose economic or electoral interests are being served given the growing public consensus on the need to integrate the large foreigner population. These opponents also make use of the broader European context to buttress their arguments, often pointing to the norms of an earlier, 1963 Council of Europe treaty that essentially prohibited dual nationality (Jochen Buchsteiner, “Am liebsten abschirmen,” Die Zeit, February 2, 1996; Interviews, Cem Oezdemir, Bundestag Deputy, Green Party, March 1995; Dr. Camelia Sonntag-Volgast; German Ministry of Interior, March, August 1995; Dr. Jens Meyer-Ladewig and Detlef Wasser, German Ministry of Justice, August 1995; Thomae-Venske; Safter Cinar; Ismail Kosan).

The foregoing leads to an important observation. Europeanization not only creates new opportunities, generates contention and empowers social movements, it can also be a resource for state elites. Earlier, I documented how it was a resource for those “puzzling” elites with high levels of cognitive uncertainty: The regional norms promoted by Europeanization facilitated social learning. Here, it serves as a very different kind of resource, with elites exploiting other norms (those in the 1963 treaty) to advance given interests. The argument thus builds on Moravcsik’s (1994) much criticized “strengthening the state” thesis, where integration bestows additional policy authority on state decisionmakers. While his thesis is overstated and limited by its materialist and methodologically individualist ontology, it does offer a healthy reminder that we should not “read the state out” of our analyses of contention or normative diffusion, or, more to the point, to portray state agents only and always as passive and reactive.

Second and following on the last point, key units within the government have pro-actively sought to minimize the influence of new norms on national membership sponsored by the Council. For example, when Germany signed the Council's Framework Convention on National Minorities in May 1995, it issued a special declaration making clear that: (1) the Council had no right to define a national minority; and (2) Germany would adhere to its traditional understanding that the category “national minority” applies only to individuals within its borders who hold German citizenship. In other words, the large numbers of Roma and Turks living in the country but without citizenship status would be excluded from the Convention's normative reach (“Germany Signs European Council Convention on Minority Rights,” This Week in Germany, May 19, 1995; Rose, 1995; Interviews, German Foreign Ministry, March, June 1995; Hanno Hartig, CE Secretariat, June 1995; Vera Jungewelter, German Ministry of Justice, August 1995).

Even more notable are the government's efforts to block norms on citizenship sponsored by the Council. In particular, the Interior Ministry, during 1993-97, made clear its unhappiness with the new nationality treaty -- especially the provisions on dual citizenship. For a period during 1995, Germany went so far as to boycott sessions of the working group that was drafting the treaty (Interviews, German ministerial official, March, August 1995; CE Secretariat, June 1995, May 1996).

A Policy in Flux. This active resistance and “non-learning” of governmental elites has led to a situation where, despite the societal mobilization documented above, there was not rapid or wide-ranging policy change -- particularly on the issue of dual citizenship. With the exception of some minor changes to citizenship statutes enacted in 1993 that affected children of foreigners (Deutsches Staatsangehoerigkeitsrecht, 1993: 63), the pace of change has been slow and contested, with five rounds of Bundestag debate, over a three-year period, ending in deadlock and recrimination (Spiros Simitis, “Zwei Paesse - warum nicht?,” Die Zeit, January 27, 1995; “Welcome and Stay Out,” Economist, May 14, 1994; “Bloody-Minded,” Economist, February 25, 1995; “Auslaenderrechts-Tango im Bundestag,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, November 14, 1996; “Debatte zur Neuregelung des Staatsangehoerigkeitsrechts am 30. Oktober 1997,” Das Parlament Nr.46, November 7, 1997; “Germany: Dual Citizenship,” Migration News 5 (January 1998); “Die Koalition lehnt die erleichterte Einbuergerung von Auslaenderkindern ab,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 28, 1998).

At this point, the knowledgeable reader may exclaim “wait a minute”! Surely, this deadlocked state of affairs has changed dramatically since the September 1998 federal elections, when the CDU/CSU coalition was replaced by a SPD/Green one. Indeed, as of this writing (mid-January 1999), the new government is within days of legislating the most far-reaching changes to Germany’s nationality laws since the 1913 citizenship statute was enacted. Among other liberalizing proposals, these will allow dual citizenship, albeit most likely for a limited period, after which immigrants must choose German nationality or that of their “home” country (Koalitionsvertrag, 1998: Teil IX; and, for overview and background, “Germany: Citizenship, Asylum,” Migration News 5 [December 1998]; “Der Kampf um die Paesse,” Der Spiegel, January 11, 1999). From the standpoint of the arguments advanced in this paper, these changes raise two important issues: (1) do they herald a dramatic shift in the diffusion dynamics sketched earlier; and (2) are they evidence of victory for the social movements that have for so long pushed for such reforms?

On the former, both diffusion mechanisms that link European norms to German politics -- social mobilization and social learning -- still appear to be at work. To cite one example: German NGOs, the liberal press and immigrant groups, over the last three months, have intensified their pressure campaign -- again pointing to the laws of other countries and changing European norms to make the case for fundamental reforms of German citizenship/identity conceptions (Roger de Weck, “Pro: Zwei Paesse,” Die Zeit, January 7, 1999; Manfred Ertel, “Regalmaessig akzeptiert: In den meisten europaeischen Laendern ist die doppelte Staatsangehoerigkeit kein Problem fuer Politik und Buerger,” Der Spiegel, January 11, 1999). [18]

There is also additional evidence of social learning by some elites. SPD leader and Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, for example, has recently argued that a central goal in allowing dual citizenship in the Federal Republic is “to europeanize German nationality law” (“Possibility for Talks Concerning Dual Citizenship,” GermNews, January 12, 1999). However, as before, other elites continue to exploit, in a proactive way, the European arena to advance their own -- unchanging -- views on citizenship; this is especially true for members of the CDU/CSU opposition. Most important, they have announced plans to challenge, in the European Court of Justice, the constitutionality of any move toward dual citizenship (“CSU May Challenge SPD’s Citizenship Plans in Court,” GermNews, January 6, 1999). [19]

At a more general level, recent events confirm the relevance of my earlier theoretical discussion of role conflict and cultural matches, with historically constructed and ethnic conceptions of German identity clashing with new, emergent and more civic understandings. Indeed, the SPD/Green citizenship reform proposals have both intensified this clash and revealed its deeper, underlying normative dimension. The result, over the past four months, has been a wide-ranging public debate in Germany unlike any seen in many years. [20] It is a heated -- impassioned would not be too strong a word -- disagreement over the normative constitution of what it means to be German. For sure, some of the rhetoric is just that: Rhetoric employed strategically in an ongoing political contest. However, in many other cases, it goes beyond this, to what FDP general secretary Westerwelle has called “immigration policies from the gut” -- that is, behavior driven not by politics and strategizing, but by more fundamental identity conceptions (“Opposition Parties Clash over Citizenship Plans,” Financial Times, January 5,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, January 5/6, 1999).

All this said, one still needs to answer the second issue raised above: Are the recent changes evidence of the power of social movements and their politics of contention? After all, there is a strong correlation between the content of the SPD/Green proposals and reforms earlier advocated by numerous individuals, groups and movements in Germany. Yet, correlation is not causation, and while my research is still very much in progress, I am skeptical of any strong claims along these lines. For one, the shift in policy also correlates with a rather dramatic changeover at the elite level. SPD Chancellor Schroeder is not simply a “third way,” Blairite social democrat; equally important, he signals the arrival in power of a truly post-war generation of German politicians. And “generational change” of this sort is often a key causal variable behind radical policy shifts, especially at the ideational/normative level highlighted here (see also Stein, 1994: 162-63, passim). [21]

More important, it is crucially important, from a methodological perspective, to ask the counterfactual: Absent the development of new regional norms and absent domestic social mobilization, would liberalizing changes to citizenship and naturalization laws in any case be occurring in a modern industrial democracy such as Germany? While it is beyond the limits of the present paper to conduct a thorough analysis of this sort, there are reasons to expect that the answer might be “yes.” For example, it has recently been argued that immigration/nationality policy in liberal states has an in-built bias towards becoming more expansionist and inclusive over time: It is dominated by client politics, where small and often well-organized employer, human-rights and ethnic groups work with state officials outside public view to promote more inclusive membership policies. While the sentiment of the general public is typically anti-immigration, this interest is diffuse; in contrast, the interests of immigrant advocacy groups tend to be concentrated. Collective action problems thus explain: (a) the public’s inability to bring about more restrictive change; and (b) why the preferences of the better organized liberal interest groups tend to prevail (Freeman, 1998: 101-104). [22]

In sum, while it is never analytically satisfying to have an overdetermined outcome, the three causal strands identified above -- social mobilization and social learning spurred by regional norms, generational turnover and client politics -- can nonetheless be reconciled in the following manner. For one, it is very likely that the SPD election victory and accompanying generational shift simply accelerated a process of change that was already under way, due to the mobilization and learning dynamics sketched earlier. Moreover, the “concentrated interests” of the advocacy groups stressed by analysts like Freeman were most likely: (a) more “mobilizeable” due to the existence of new regional norms; and (b) in some cases, learned in the first place via exposure to such norms.

Europeanization and German Citizenship - III: Pressures from Brussels. In part because the TEU's citizenship provisions lack any prescriptive guidance, the German debate over their implementation has lacked the social mobilization or learning dynamics seen in the CE case. Indeed, the EU's democratic deficit is being replicated within the Federal Republic as few societal actors or groups have even taken notice of Maastricht's Union citizenship provisions. Instead, the debate has been largely confined to elites (Laender officials, judges, politicians) as they calculate strategies for carrying out the TEU's citizenship injunctions.

I use the phrase “calculate strategies” purposely as the evidence indicates that the adoption of a Union citizenship in Brussels has led to no fundamental reconceptualization of German membership; rather, domestic agents view it as a constraint on their behavior or as an opportunity to exploit. One only need consider the example already given: how prominent CDU/CSU elites plan a legal challenge, based on Maastricht’s European citizenship provisions, to current SPD proposals on dual citizenship. [23]

This is not to argue that the TEU’s Euro-citizenship statute does not have effects in the Federal Republic -- far from it. Various Laender have been required to make changes to their electoral laws and, to take just one example, French nationals are now voting in local elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg. However, in terms of this essay’s central concerns -- how and whether Europeanization and normative diffusion are spurring social mobilization/learning -- these changes are of little interest. The overwhelming conclusion one can infer from media coverage and the specialist literature is that European citizenship in Germany has been a dry and technocratic affair, where agents have engaged in a self-interested game of strategic adaptation to a new external constraint (Degen, 1993; Bauer and Kahl, 1995; Engelken, 1995; “Kein Konkurrenzschutz an der Urne,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, February 28, 1997; “Gericht: EU-Auslaender darf in Bayern nicht Buergermeister werden,” Agence France Presse, November 6, 1997).

One caveat to my analysis is in order. Simply put, it may be too early to tell whether EU citizenship will promote mobilization or learning dynamics that may, in the longer term, have deeper, identity-shaping effects in the Federal Republic. After all, new laws are now on the books and if they become institutionalized and locked-in, a slow process may take place where domestic agents come to rethink fundamental interests and perhaps conceptions of German identity. Historical institutionalists have demonstrated the importance of just such a dynamic in numerous other contexts (Longstreth, 1992; Hattam, 1993, for example). [24]

Yet, I am skeptical. The new laws are limited in scope of application to EU nationals; they continue to view such individuals precisely as foreign nationals who are temporarily resident on German soil. Moreover, these laws say nothing about the long-term social integration, and its consequent implications for German identity, of the largest group of foreign nationals resident in Germany: Turkish immigrants.


In this last section, I assess the implications of my analysis for the study of European institutions and social mobilization, the debate between rationalists and social constructivists, and for students of German identity.

The EU in Comparative Perspective. In two ways, my study suggests the value of viewing the EU from a comparative -- cross-institutional -- perspective. First, when comparing the CE and EU, one sees an important difference in the pattern of social mobilization. At the regional level, Brussels surely gets more attention from various advocacy groups. Initially, these were primarily transnational peak associations; however, recent years have seen an explosion of NGO and social movement interest and presence in Brussels (Favell, 1998). Yet, at the national level, it was the CE, in my case, that sparked greater dynamics of both social mobilization and social learning.

Why the difference? For one, there is the issue area studied. Given that the CE has a 40 year track record of work in human rights and citizenship and that the EU has only in the last decade very, very hesitantly begun to address such matters, it comes as no surprise that the former is a greater normative and organizational asset in the domestic arena than the latter. Equally important, the EU, from the start, has been a project largely by and for elites -- and thus largely “off the radar screen” for many movements and activists.

However, this latter factor is currently in a state of change and flux. The signal failure of the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty to advance the human-rights/citizenship agenda begun in Maastricht, along with the European Parliament’s growing interest and assertiveness in such matters, are leading to higher levels of social mobilization at the national level on EU-related issues as well. For example, more and more transnational and domestic NGOs and activists are adopting -- and simultaneously seeking to modify -- the EU’s European citizenship as a cause of their own. As these groups multiply, create links to the European Parliament and begin to work with like-minded organizations in countries such as Germany, the whole debate over EU citizenship could move to a qualitatively different level (“Call to Strengthen Rules on Human Rights and Democracy,” Financial Times, February 11, 1997; “The Brussels Lobbyist and the Struggle for Ear-Time,” Economist, August 15, 1998; Nas, 1998).

Second, my comparative case materials suggest that Europeanization is not simply a constraint on the strategies of social movements, or that it only creates new political opportunity structures for them (Marks and McAdam, 1996; McAdam, Tarrow, Tilly, 1997: 153-54; Tarrow, 1998b: 25, passim). This view is not so much wrong as incomplete. The implicit ontology (methodological individualism) and theory of action (rational choice) on offer unduly circumscribe our understanding of agency. There are other instances where agents do not calculate and “power,” but instead “puzzle” (due to high cognitive uncertainty). In these cases, they do not so much react to or exploit events at the European or transnational level; rather, through a process of interaction with them, they learn new interests and preferences -- for example, when that “opportunity structure” promotes normative understandings. Here, the ontology (mutual constitution or, better said, relational) and theory of action (social learning) are quite different.

Of course, these comments point to the utility of a more constructivist understanding of agency’s role. While the constructivist literature is young, varied and still has many deficiencies, it has nonetheless reminded us, and empirically demonstrated, that social interaction between agents or between agents and structures cannot be reduced -- at all times and under all circumstances -- to the language of calculation, optimizing behavior and constraint (Katzenstein, 1996, for example). [25]

Constructivism and Rational Choice. These last comments, however, should not lead readers to conclude that I favor an “either/or” approach -- either constructivism or rational choice. Rather, the proper stand is one of “both/and” (see also McAdam, Tarrow, Tilly, 1997: 159, passim). Indeed, there is an emerging debate on the relation of constructivism to rationalism, with a number of different claims being advanced -- for example, that constructivism, by endogenizing interest formation, supplements rational choice; or, more ambitiously, that it represents an alternative approach to social action, one based on a cognitive model different from rational choice; or, that it “seizes the middle ground” between rational choice and postmodernism (compare Adler, 1997; Checkel, 1998a; Katzenstein, Keohane, Krasner, 1998; and Risse, 1998). [26]

To disentangle these claims, constructivists must pay greater theoretical attention to process and agency. Too often, they consider only the role of international, regional or transnational “norm-makers”; on the one hand, this is understandable and important. By helping to create norms, entrepreneurial activists, international institutions such as the EU and CE, advocacy networks and international NGOs are changing world politics before our eyes -- witness the amazing story of individual agency in the emerging global norm to prohibit land mines (Price, 1998).

This emphasis comes at a cost, however. By bracketing theoretically how norms connect with domestic “norm-takers” (the focus of the present paper), constructivists have been unclear about the process through which norms have their effects. Put more bluntly, these researchers often employ their own variant of “as if” reasoning (agents operating as if governed by logics of appropriateness), to the detriment of developing theories that capture and explain how the constructivist world, at the unit level, really works. The result has been an analytic failure to appreciate an obvious empirical fact: Both rationalist and constructivist logics are at work in most social settings.

This essay, by exploring the role of social learning and societal mobilization at the level of norm-takers, helps restore agency to its rightful place in the constructivist enterprise. In so doing, it will assist these scholars in developing a distinctively constructivist theory of action, while also helping delimit more clearly their claims vis-a-vis theoretical competitors. Yet, in the end, my own analysis still falls short in two ways.

First, the mechanism and interaction context through which agent preferences change require further “unpackaging.” To model this context, constructivists too often employ a vague notion of “socialization,” which is broad, temporally sweeping and obscures more than it clarifies (however, see Risse and Sikkink, 1999). Here, I argued that implicit conceptions of social learning underlay arguments about socialization, and drew upon earlier work in cognitive/social psychology and organizational theory to operationalize the term. However, this argument, in turn, is itself underspecified: In some cases, a very active process of communication and persuasion may be the dynamic promoting learning. If so, then there are rich literatures in communications research and social psychology waiting to be exploited by constructivists (Checkel, 1999c; and, especially, Johnston, 1998).

Second, while it is all well and good to demonstrate empirically that both rationalist and constructivist logics operate in the real world, the analytic challenge is to develop scope conditions that specify when and under what conditions agents are more likely to operate under one or the other logic. From a problem-driven perspective, this would seem to be a central issue; yet, it has received surprisingly little attention in the literature (see also Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998: 913; and, for a [rare] empirical test, Schimmelfennig, 1999). In this essay, I suggested two conditions under which constructivist/social-learning logics are more likely: high cognitive uncertainty and the degree to which agents are “novices” (actors in new/novel settings). However, this is only a start, and other types of scope conditions are possible -- for example, the structure of domestic political institutions (Checkel, 1999a) or organizational-setting/group-size (Risse-Kappen, 1996), to name just two. [27]

German Identity. This essay defined Europeanization as the development of new collective understandings on citizenship and membership. Norms of this sort, if successfully diffused, can have a powerful impact on state identity. However, my analysis suggests their influence in contemporary Germany is ambiguous and contested. Two factors account for this outcome. At the regional level, Europeanization of nationality or citizenship -- be it in Brussels or Strasbourg -- is at best emergent and tentative. At the national level, Germany's historically constructed identity, with its ethnic and exclusive focus, is serving as a filter or block for some domestic agents vis-a-vis more civic and inclusive European-level norms.

My results are therefore at odds with accounts that depict the emergence of a postnational membership model in Western Europe or with arguments that assert a thorough Europeanization of German national identity in the postwar era. On the former, differences arise because previous work (Soysal, 1994, for example) employed a theoretical apparatus that brackets the process through which European and international discourses favoring postnational membership actually play out in particular national settings. For the latter, my empirical focus -- the hard case of fundamental conceptions of nationhood (citizenship, membership) -- explains why I see less Europeanization of German identity. [28]


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* Paper presented at a workshop on "Transnational Networks and European Contention," Institute for European Studies, Cornell University, February 1999. This is a significantly revised version of a chapter that will appear in James Caporaso, Maria Cowles and Thomas Risse, Editors, Europeanization and Domestic Structural Change (forthcoming 2000). The financial support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Norwegian Research Council is gratefully acknowledged. For detailed comments on earlier drafts, I thank Thmas Risse, Fritz Scharpf, Antje Wiener and, especially, Jim Caporaso.

** ARENA/University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1143 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:

[1]. Recent endorsements of this thesis include Bates, de Figueiredo and Weingast (1998: 635, passim); and Katzenstein, Keohane and Krasner (1998: 679-82).

[2]. This claims holds for intergovernmentalists, as well as their putative opponents: neofunctionalists/supranationalists and students of multi-level governance.

[3]. The following builds upon Checkel (1997b).

[4]. The social movements literature seems to adopt many of these same biases. See, especially, the important synthesizing effort in Tarrow (1998a: chapter 11, 192-95). Let me stress that my criticisms are meant to be constructive in that I seek to build upon the pioneering work described here.

[5]. Learning of this type needs to be distinguished analytically from simple learning. For the latter, strategies and tactics change while underlying interests and preferences remain stable; it can be accommodated within a rationalist account. With complex learning, interests themselves are endogenized. Levy (1994).

[6]. Full textual and interview citations for the points made here and above can be found in Checkel (1999a: 94-96).

[7]. Some might argue that by only examining norms in formal treaty processes, I miss key elements of Europeanization that may develop in broader realms -- say, in transnational discourses or shared practices. While this may be true, invoking the latter dynamics becomes problematic if one wishes to establish causal pathways connecting social structures to agents. Put differently, significant measurement difficulties arise when one seeks to link diffuse transnational discourses or practices to regional/domestic change. See Soysal (1994); Koslowski and Kratochwil (1994); and Wiener (1998: 8-15, passim), for example.

[8]. The windows were, for minority rights, the war in Yugoslavia, and, for citizenship and immigrant rights, the break-up of the USSR.

[9]. The Commission has been advocating EU adherence to the ECHR since 1979.

[10]. Amsterdam also failed to change the status-quo regarding the ECHR, with member states still refusing to have the EU formally accede to it. See “Protection of Fundamental Rights in the Union,”, March 16, 1998.

[11]. Shaw (1997: 3) notes that the TEU’s placement of fundamental rights in Article F(2) ensures that they stand outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

[12]. The historical dimension extends even further than documented here, with the ethnic citizenship principle of the 1913 statute being taken from a law promulgated in 1870. Von Mangoldt (1994).

[13]. The evil doctrine view of DC also took root at the Federal Interior Ministry, where former minister Kanther often referred to multiple nationality as a “fundamental evil.” Matthias Geis, “Deutsche unter sich: Streit um die Staatsbuergerschaft,” Die Zeit, April 25, 1997.

[14]. Recent empirical studies of norm diffusion provide ample evidence of the crucial importance of this domestic normative setting -- for example, Klotz (1995b: chapter 7).

[15]. Kolat and Cinar, in particular, are very much aware of and utilize broader European norms and policy on citizenship.

[16]. On thin rationalism more generally, see Green and Shapiro (1994: 17-19), as well as Elster’s more recent work. Thanks to Frank Schimmelfennig for discussion on these points.

[17]. To the extent that these politicians are reacting to earlier social mobilization, my account is partly consistent with the more sophisticated pressure-from-below argument (Risse and Sikkink [1999], for example). Yet, their learning seems to have come about less through pressure and confrontation and more through dialogue and persuasion -- points to which I return in the conclusion.

[18]. My observations here are preliminary: I have conducted no fieldwork in Germany since the September 1998 election and thus lack the interview data that is especially crucial for documenting social learning.

[19]. While this appeal to the ECJ may be legal bluff, Germany’s move toward dual citizenship does raise an important issue for the EU. Most analysts predict that the forthcoming changes will result in the granting of German citizenship to 2-4 million Turkish immigrants and other foreigners resident in the Federal Republic; under Maastricht’s European citizenship provisions, this means they would also acquire immediate rights of residency, local/EP voting, etc, in all other EU-member states. Put very crudely, a far-reaching German reform of citizenship may give several million “Turks” limited citizenship rights throughout the EU.

[20]. The one exception to this generalization would be ongoing German debates/discussions over the Holocaust.

[21]. In Checkel (1998b: 19-24), I document the central role played by elite turnover for empowering regional citizenship norms in independent Ukraine.

[22]. I thank Andy Moravcsik, Fritz Scharpf and Rey Koslowski for discussion on these points.

[23]. See Note 19 and accompanying text. Similar dynamics are at work in France and Belgium, with domestic agents -- the Constitutional Council in France and government elites in Belgium -- calculating how best to advance existing interests and identities given the constraints placed on them by Maastricht's European citizenship provisions. Closa (1995: 501); and “European Union Law: Belgium Faces Fines over Votes,” Financial Times, July 10, 1998, respectively.

[24]. Constructivists in IR make similar claims when they argue for the socializing effects of norms -- Risse and Sikkink (1999), for example.

[25]. On agency’s ontological status, there are striking parallels between research on social movements and transnational advocacy networks, on the one hand, and an earlier generation of work on agenda setting, developed largely in the policy studies field. In the latter, the central dynamic driving change is also knowledgeable, calculating agents (“policy entrepreneurs”) who exploit changing opportunity structures (“policy windows”). In Checkel (1999b), I empirically demonstrate how this methodologically individualist ontology hinders a full understanding of the large-scale policy and normative change occurring over the past decade in the former USSR, post-Soviet Russia and independent Ukraine.

[26]. More accurately, this is a debate between so-called “modernist” or “conventional” constructivists and rationalists. Critical constructivists, for the most part, deny the possibility of any such debate on deeper epistemological and ontological grounds. See Hopf (1998); and Price and Reus-Smit (1998).

[27]. The scope conditions proposed here are very different from those advocated by proponents of the division of labor thesis. For the latter, the scope condition is temporal and carries a fixed ordering: first constructivism (endogenization of interests), then rational choice (strategic exchange on the basis of those interests).

[28]. Katzenstein and collaborators (1997: 24-33, passim), for example, argue for a Europeanization and internationalization of German national identity, but neglect issues of citizenship and membership addressed here.

[Date of publication in the ARENA Working Paper series: 15.01.1999]