The Future of “Citizen”: The Script of Agentic Individuality and its Comparative Enactment


The post-war liberal world order, and a triumphalist neoliberalism since the 1990s, transformed citizenship whereby an increasingly agentic and right-bearing individual gained prominence across a wide-range of policy and institutional domains. The script of agentic individuality, a core precept of liberal citizenship, unfolded and became standardized through interacting dynamics between national and transnational courts (e.g. the European Court of Justice), instruments of international organizations (e.g. the International Conventions on Human Rights, the UN’s Human Development Index), the expansion of education and particularly the higher education worldwide, and the growth of scientific and professional authority and expertise. The script projects empowered individuals who are adaptable in a globalized knowledge society and have the virtue and capability of participating and contributing at local, national and transnational levels.  Yet, the script also foments its own contradictions.  Agentic individuality disembeds persons from collective categories and renders them as universally equal and virtuous subjects in line with liberal ideals. On the other hand, it invites new moral boundaries and divisions: those who are capable of exercising their agency (in line with now-globalized scripts) are worthy individuals and citizens. This is much facilitated by the proliferation of evaluative technologies since the turn of the new century, which enable increasingly digital ways of measuring and benchmarking the performance of agentic individuality.

The project is structured around three analytical nodes: a) the processes and agencies of the diffusion of the global script of agentic individuality in an increasingly fragmented and multi-polar world order; b) the scripts and institutions of agentic individuality and its societal underpinnings and contradictions in comparative (and beyond Western) contexts; c) the paradoxical implications and challenges of the increasing gap between the globalized script of agentic individuality and its realization.

Main content

Selected Publications

Yasemin Nuhoğlu Soysal (2021) “Institutional underpinnings, global reach, and the future of ordinal citizenship”, British Journal of Sociology 72 (2): 174–180.

Yasemin Nuhoglu Soysal (2021) “Citizenship’s double-edged sword: Locating liberalism and illiberalism in citizenship”, The International Journal of Constitutional Law 18 (4): 1519–1522.

Yasemin Nuhoğlu Soysal (2021) “Who Needs Mobility Without Human Rights?” Global Citizenship Observatory, EUI.

Yasemin Nuhoğlu Soysal (2012) Citizenship, immigration, and the European social project: rights and obligations of individuality, The British Journal of Sociology 63 (1): 1–21.

Yasemin Nuhoğlu Soysal (2012) Individuality, sociological institutionalism, and continuing inequalities: a response to commentators, The British Journal of Sociology 63 (1): 47–53.

since 2020