Research Output

‘Living Rights’, rights claims, performative citizenship and young people – the right to vote in the Scottish independence referendum

  This paper examines the rights claims-making that young people engaged in during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum when the right to vote was extended to 16- and 17-year-olds for the first time in the UK. Understanding citizenship and rights claims-making as performative, we draw on the novel idea of ‘living rights’ to explore how young people ‘shape what these rights are – and become – in the social world’. They are coexistent and situated within the everyday lives of young people, and transcend the traditional idea that rights are merely those that are enshrined in domestic and/or international law. We explore the complex and contested nature of rights claims that were made by young people as ‘active citizens’ in the lead up to the referendum to illustrate how the rights claims-making by young people is bound up with the performativity of citizenship that entails identity construction, political subjectivity (that challenges adultcentric approaches) and social justice.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    18 June 2018

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  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    306 Culture & institutions

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Sanghera, G., Botterill, K., Hopkins, P., & Arshad, R. (2018). ‘Living Rights’, rights claims, performative citizenship and young people – the right to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Citizenship Studies, 22(5), 540-555.



Citizenship; claims-making; living rights; performativity; referendum; right to vote

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    © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
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