From the accumulated research on citizenship in social psychology outlined above, we know that articulating a voice within a broader community requires some form of ontological claim: a sense of who we are; our entitlement to speak; and why we should be heard. This is very much the case for the fledgling social psychology of citizenship attempting to make a contribution within the broader arena of citizenship studies. For this to occur we require a clearer sense of where we come from so as to craft a message that is coherent and recognizable without being reductive or misleading.
In this article, we have attempted to undertake some of this work. We first provided some background to the current approaches to citizenship, participation and exclusion within social psychology by reviewing previous and current approaches to these topics. This is not intended as a comprehensive review but to give a stronger sense of some of the origins of the study of citizenship within the discipline and to provide some insight into how these have shaped the way we currently understand and study the concept. We acknowledge that this specific focus provides something of a ‘chiaroscuro’ – selectively illuminating some aspects of the psychology of citizenship while obscuring others – but we argue that this serves to identify specific conceptual antecedents which help make sense of the current diversity of approaches to citizenship within psychology.