Student Research Projects

German Citizenship Reform: Legal Inclusion vs. National Belonging

Student Carolina Solms-Baruth
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Political Science


I seek to understand how the citizenship reform affected ideas of German citizenship and national belonging with regard to individuals of Turkish-descent. Until 1999, German citizenship law was based on jus sangiunis, or the law of blood, which made it nearly impossible for most foreigners to attain citizenship even if they were born within the country or had spent most of their life there. Foreigners with German-ethnic descent, on the other hand, were eligible for citizenship even if they had not stepped foot inside the country. Under the new citizenship law, which came into force on January 1, 2000, an individual born in Germany to foreign parents can get German citizenship, provided that his/her parents have resided legally in the country for eight years. This study will concentrate mainly on the immigrants of Turkish ethnicity, not only because they are physically distinct from ethnic Germans and represent the largest minority group in Germany, 2 million out of roughly 7 million, but also because the Muslim religion presents a unique challenge in the integration process. How have the Germans of German-ethnicity changed their perceptions of Germans of foreign-ethnic descent, specifically Turks? Have Germans of foreign-ethnic descent become more accepted as citizens, and more importantly, have they become accepted as Germans?