The shifting terrain of citizenship: a wayfarer’s guide

Citizenship Discrimination Australia

This report addresses researchers and others who are broadly interested in gaining a working understanding of concepts of citizenship to understand issues of social inequality. Citizenship is a concept with a long history and growing breadth. This means that it is a promising concept to inform interdisciplinary research addressing issues of social inequality, but there are challenges in navigating its complex currents. Therefore, our aims in this scoping report are to identify key conceptual platforms that are particularly relevant for informing interdisciplinary research and advocacy through the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI). We travel over varied terrain to summarise an extensive scholarly literature.

This journey is important because concepts of citizenship inform one of the MSEI’s four broad, cross-disciplinary research theme areas. Theme areas are:

  • Citizenship and Diversity
  • Human rights
  • Access to public goods
  • Social policy across the life course

The MSEI is one of six research institutes at the University of Melbourne that were charged to tackle society’s complex problems in innovative ways. Formally established in mid- 2012, the MSEI brings together researchers from across the University of Melbourne to identify unjust or unfair conditions and practices that lead to social inequity and to work towards finding ways to ameliorate disadvantage. Currently, the MSEI supports a range of research activities, including annual rounds of research seed funding, plenary speakers, symposia, research networks and, in early 2014, it convened the inaugural ‘Imagining Social Equity Conference’ in Melbourne. These research and engagement activities address social equity issues across the full spectrum of social life including health, law, education, housing, work and transport. Further information about the MSEI can be found at

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