Theory and Society

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 101–124

Protecting citizens in hard times: citizenship and repatriation pressures in the United States and France during the 1930s


DOI: 10.1007/s11186-015-9243-x

Cite this article as:
Baltz, M.J. Theor Soc (2015) 44: 101. doi:10.1007/s11186-015-9243-x


Economic crises have historically left immigrants vulnerable due to their insecure positions in the labor market and tenuous social and political ties to host country populations. During the Great Depression, citizenship status also emerged as a key factor determining the rights and protections offered to foreign-born populations in the two main receiving states of the interwar period: the United States and France. This article investigates the ways in which citizenship began to intrude into areas of social and political life where it previously held little relevance. To explain this phenomenon, it draws upon and supplements theories on the relationship between the formation of states and the making of modern national communities, focusing on the expanding powers of nation states within and across international borders after World War I. In both France and the United States, there were notable expansions in their power to control migration and fund social assistance programs. Similarly, sending states were also expanding their power to provide “remote protections” for their citizens abroad through bilateral labor treaties or expanded consular support. As states began to do more things with greater capacity, new and firmer boundaries were forged between citizens and noncitizens as well as between sending and receiving states. A key consequence of this was unprecedented pressure to repatriate. Contrary to much of the previous scholarship on this subject, this article stresses the evolving powers of both sending and receiving states and the corresponding elevation of citizenship status as key enablers of repatriation.


Sending and receiving states Interwar period Migration control State formation Noncitizens Social assistance 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California – Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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