Doctoral Dissertation Research: Punishing the 'Others': Understanding Citizenship through Punishment in the United States and Germany

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project explores the punishment of noncitizens in U.S. and German courts. While some scholars argue that citizenship is no longer legally relevant in the globalized world, empirical tests of the salience of citizenship under the law are scant and cross-national tests have yet to be undertaken. By comparing sentencing outcomes in Germany and the United States ? two advanced democracies with strong rule of law traditions but markedly different conceptions of citizenship and nationhood ? this project empirically evaluates the consequences of being an ?outsider? of the state when punished under the law. In doing so, this project addresses four related questions: 1) Are noncitizens punished more severely in U.S. and German courts? 2) Does the treatment of noncitizens differ between these two countries? 3) How do the effects of citizenship compare to other extra-legal offender attributes in each country? 4) How have practices of punishing noncitizens changed over time in each country, and what might explain these trends? The PIs draw on previous work highlighting exclusionary aspects of national membership and link these ideas with theories of law and punishment that emphasize the detriments of being an ?outsider? in social control institutions to develop hypotheses. Hypotheses are tested with data from U.S. federal courts and German district courts from 1995 to 2009, supplemented by qualitative interviews with judges in two major cities within each country.

With over 200 million international migrants today, understanding the consequences of lacking state membership has implications for policy makers, judicial practitioners, and scholars interested in international law, international migration, stratification, and social control. While many countries have made efforts to ensure equal justice along lines of race and ethnicity, there has been considerably less attention devoted to citizenship and legal status.

Effective start/end date9/1/128/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $18,074.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.