Guestworkers and second-class citizenship

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13 Scopus citations


This paper takes up the question of rights restrictions for guestworkers from a liberal-democratic perspective. Is it ever legitimate to offer migrants job opportunities in exchange for their agreement to waive rights? If so, are there limits on the rights we can ask guestworkers to give up? I examine three arguments for why rights restrictions on guestworkers should not be allowed: (1) that they require guestworkers to waive an inalienable claim to membership, (2) that they are exploitative, and (3) that they place guestworkers into dominating social relationships in the receiving society. I conclude that none of these arguments can rule out rights restrictions on guestworkers altogether. I then sketch some restrictions that remain permissible even after we take these arguments into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-307
Number of pages13
JournalPolicy and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations


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