‘Some animals are more equal than others’: the hierarchy of citizenship in Austria

Suleman Lazarus

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While this article aims to explore the connections between citizenship and ‘race’, it is the first study to use fictional tools as a sociological resource in exemplifying the deviation between citizenship in principle and practice in an Austrian context. The study involves interviews with 73 Austrians from three ethnic/racial groups, which were subjected to a directed approach to qualitative content analysis and coded based on sentences from George Orwell’s fictional book, ‘Animal Farm’. By using fiction as a conceptual and analytical device, this article goes beyond the orthodox particulars of citizenship to expose the compressed entitlements of some racial/ethnic minorities. In particular, data analysis revealed two related and intertwined central themes: (a) “all animals are not equal or comrades”; and (b) “some animals are more equal than others”. All ‘animals’ may be equal in principle, whereas, in practice, their ‘race’ serves as a critical source of social (dis)advantage in the ‘animal kingdom’. Thus, since citizenship is a precondition for possessing certain rights that non-citizens are not granted, I argue that citizenship cannot only be judged by whom it, in theory, excludes (i.e., non-citizens), but also by how it treats the included (i.e., citizens) on the basis of their ‘race’. I conclude that skin colour is a specific aspect of the hierarchy of citizenship in Austria, which reinforces that ‘some animals are more equal than others’.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019


  • Austria
  • citizenship
  • social citizenship
  • 'race'
  • Ethnic groups
  • inequalities
  • social hierarchy
  • fiction and social reality
  • Animal Farm


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