New book - Now out in paper back

Book cover

© YAY Media AS / Alamy

My book, “The Limits of Political Belonging: an adaptionist perspective on citizenship and society” published by Palgrave MacMillan and is now available. 

Citizenship is increasingly the core concept by which human belonging is defined but do we really understand what it is? Practical prescriptions for citizenship are political ones and reflect particular assumptions about human nature and expectations about human behaviour. This book develops an evolutionist argument to challenge accepted ideas about citizenship and question the goodness of fit between political prescriptions for sociality and human nature.


The prevailing model of citizenship is derived of political ideology; ideals about what a ‘good society’ should look like determine particular prescriptions for citizenship. Such ideals reflect the desire for homogeneity out of difference in pursuit of ‘one size fits all’ policy approaches because from the top looking down they seem most feasible. From the bottom looking up, however, the heterogeneity of belonging is stark. The book examines the goodness of fit between the dominant political model of citizenship and the innate nature of human beings to cohere in ways which render political prescriptions for sociality at odds with how the human social mind works; the latter reflecting a realistic citizenship in terms of belonging, the former an idealistic citizenship in terms of behaving or conforming. This duality of belonging suggests that the prospects of an acceptable goodness of fit for all who are subject to such prescriptions may be a forlorn hope.

Citizenship as it stands reflects a dominant political model of belonging which has proved enduring but which is contested from a range of standpoints, such as feminism, social exclusion and human rights. The book exposes the limits of citizenship conceived in wholly or overtly political terms, and endorses the validity of citizenship struggles that implicitly and explicitly champion human belonging over political belonging.

A Darwinian paradigm offers a novel framework within which to explore citizenship. A rubric of interaction and selection reveals a dualism of human sociality in terms of endogenous and exogenous social connections: those derived of innate dispositions to assimilate with certain others; and those derived of imposed political prescriptions for association with all. As a consequence, the book makes the claim for two kinds of citizenship bound up with two kinds of society: the political and the human. The case for the primacy of humanness over political ideology is compelling.

Intended as a thought provoking if not provocative addition to the citizenship debate it offers a new take on some old ideas in sociology too. Evolutionists will no doubt welcome the extension of Darwinian tenets into a new area of social policy but the inevitable resistances from social policists will perhaps prove the more useful catalysts for debate. © Mark Edwards 2014