Global and Local Citizenship

We are encouraged to be good citizens, but we need solutions for how to foster greater inclusion and empowerment for all.

crowded street

In today’s increasingly globalised world, we are simultaneously participants in our local communities and in the global sphere. All people have rights and responsibilities both in the local places where they live, such as nations or regions, but also in terms of the world, and we often struggle to understand and balance these roles. At The University of Adelaide, we tackle the themes and issues of global and local citizenship through research on social inequality, and social inclusion and cohesion.

For instance, we look at the effects of immigration due to climate change and our responsibilities as global citizens, as well as democracy in Australia and how current electoral trends are a rising concern. The democratic way of life brings many benefits including the protection of human rights, social stability, equality and a good standard of living. There is considerable research showing that greater equality benefits both individual citizens as well as the broader society and the economy. For example, substantial economic inequality impacts on mental and physical health as well as the disposable income which citizens have available to purchase goods and services from the private sector. The health and survival of democracy is therefore of great importance for multiple reasons. This is especially true of Australia which is a world leader of democratic practice and a beacon of how to achieve and manage a highly inclusive democracy. Our aim in researching electoral inclusion is to understand what barriers prevent people from participating politically and how to overcome them. We also need to think about how our education system prepares people to be citizens, and how best to equip young people with the tools to understand and navigate our complex world. 

Understanding the role of social inequality is crucial if we are to unravel the complexities of climate impact, human adaption and migration. Migration is a phenomenon of very great significance, politically, socially and economically, and is predicted to continue to grow in importance. Migrants are a great resource but are also often vulnerable. Migration is also one of the most contested political issues in our democracies. Understanding and identifying the unique challenges that diverse migrant face is fundamental for developing targeted and effective policies to reduce inequality, improve adaptive capacities, foster social inclusion and cohesion, and promote migration practices that are beneficial to sustainable development.

We also have strong research programs focused on electoral participation. Voter turnout is declining in established democracies the world over and representative democracy is currently in crisis due to the rapid withdrawal of young voters among other issues. Since we know that governments ignore non-voters, this means that the worst off will become increasingly worse off. To understand and address both the democratic and welfare aspects of this problem, we are currently researching the effects of compulsory voting on democratic vitality and the means by which to engage those who are often disengaged such as Indigenous citizens, youth and people experiencing homelessness. The research helps to identify flaws and biases in previous government policies for reducing inequality via electoral participation and suggest ways in which policies could be improved.

Our research also explores shifting notions of citizenship and their implications for empowerment and political participation, including how to foster greater inclusion among those whose voices are often overlooked, so as to promote more effective and inclusive citizenship and participation. The research directly benefits Australian security interests as well as immigration and aid programs. Our research is applicable to all established democracies seeking to enhance democratic citizenship.

Our key researchers in this area:

  • Professor Lisa Hill - Politics and international relations. Lisa’s areas of research interest include: democracy and electoral inclusion, youth disengagement from politics, raising voter turnout among those experiencing homelessness and among Indigenous citizens.
  • Professor Carol Johnson  - Politics and international relations. Carol’s research focuses on themes including sexual citizenship in a comparative perspective, gender and other forms of equality and inequality, housing affordability and Australian politics.
  • Associate Professor Yan Tan - Geography, environment and population. Yan’s research areas include the effects of climate change on migration in China and on disadvantaged groups more generally, as well as adaptation to climate change in CALD communities.
  • Dr Priya Chacko - Politics and international relations. Priya’s research speciality is the intersection of populism, ethno-religious nationalism and neoliberal economics in contemporary politics especially in India and the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Dr Tiziana Torresi - Lecturer in international politics, politics and international relations. Tiziana explores issues relating to the governance of migration, in particular temporary migration, transnational justice and democratic theory both in Australia and globally.

Our research groups working in this area

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