Beyond Appearances: Citizenship Tests in Canada and the UK

  • Mireille PaquetEmail author


Citizenship tests are increasingly used by national governments as part of their naturalization procedures. Several analysts suggest that citizenship tests are indicative of a converging trend toward civic integration, especially in Europe. The reform of the Canadian citizenship test in 2009–2010 represents an opportunity to examine the mobilization of tests in different national context. Are citizenship tests necessary the central tools of civic integration policies? In order to answer this question, this article first argues that it is crucial to understand citizenship tests as public policy instruments. Using the approach developed by Pierre Lascoumes and Patrick LeGalès, the article compares the emergence and characteristics of the citizenship tests implemented by Canada and the United Kingdom. Stemming from this analysis, this article demonstrates that the two citizenship tests are different instruments despite their similar appearances. The Canadian test remains, despite the reform, an instrument to promote naturalization and integration. In contrast, in addition to promoting civic integration, the British test is also an instrument of immigration control.


Citizenship tests Canada UK Civic integration Public policy instruments 



Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference, at the Congrès annuel de la société québécoise de science politique and at the ECPR Graduate Conference. The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their questions and suggestions to improve the paper. The members of the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance and its Chair, Jane Jenson, as well as Audrey L’Espérance, Éléonore Lépinard, Caroline Andrew, Catherine Ellyson and Paul London all provided helpful comments in the process of writing this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and member of the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and GovernanceUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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