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Citizenship|By: Samim Popal

 The concept of citizenship is being used widely in today’s world. It is a complex concept but it is a very important concept in the contemporary world. Furthermore, the idea of citizenship is very powerful in the recent century and the way an individual is treated depends on whether he or she holds the status of a citizen. A person is identified by his citizenship and citizenship defines a person’s identity. Furthermore, citizenship includes the protection of individual rights both at his own country and abroad. Furthermore, citizenship gives a person the right to vote and choose his leader and voice up for his right in the country and abroad, it also gives a person the right to have property, family and so on. Every citizen under the state law is entitled to the basic principles of freedom, justice, political and social rights and also a citizen of a country or state has the responsibility to the state and its fellow citizens. Citizenship is the legal institution that designates full membership in a state and the associated rights and duties (Bertocchi & Strozzi, – 2007).  People in today’s world are differentiated by their citizenship. Before we go to the definition, let’s have a look to the background of citizenship.

Popal Sameem

Popal Sameem

Background of Citizenship

      In the current time, the role of citizenship is very important in political theory and it’s the core element of political theory. After the end of World War II and the new rise of xenophobic attitudes around the world especially in the Western countries have made the concept of citizenship even more important and strong. However, the rise of immigration from one country to another country made it difficult to decide whether to allow the right to vote or to seek asylum. In addition to that, these citizens who come from different backgrounds and country have the equal treatment of citizens.

       Citizenship is a very sensitive issue. The meaning and interpretation of the concept of citizenship depend on societies and it changes as time passes. States around the globe define citizenship according to their own laws and regulations. According to Shafir (1998), citizenship is a central concept in political philosophy: it is a framework for political democracy and individual autonomy as well as an intellectual and political tradition that connects the modern era with antiquity. The idea of citizenship goes back to the classical times and it is based on two main understandings which are based on ancient Greece and Imperial Rome and later the concept evolved into what we call the Republican and Liberal accounts of citizenship.

         The roots of the concept are in the Greek polis and the Roman res publica (Pocock 1998, p.35). According to Pocock, he describes the classical concept of citizenship as an Athenian ideal. The great thinker Aristotle regarded human beings as political animals. According to him, it is in our nature to live in political communities. He argued that the human being potential only can be realized within a polis or city-state. However, he believed that people choose or play the roles which are appropriate to their natural station in life but only a few are qualified as citizens or politai. In Aristotle’s Politics, he stated that a citizen is defined by his family and parents. According to him to be a citizen of Athens, it was necessary to be a male and known by his genealogy as being born to an Athenian citizen family. It is also mentioned in his Politics book that, a citizen is defined who holds an office in the state or is in some other way participating in the deliberative or judicial administration of the state: “Hence, as is evident, there are different kinds of citizens; and he is a citizen in the fullest sense who shares in the honors of the state”. Moreover, these entire things can be done by men, only men are capable of doing these things. So these prerequisites excluded most of the people from the right of citizenship especially the women, those women who married Athenian men were regarded as citizens, and immigrants. However, in today’s world, these are not the condition anymore. The meaning of citizenship has changed nowadays in societies. A person cannot be treated on the condition that Aristotle mentioned in his Politics book. In the Aristotle state, only the minority enjoyed the right of citizenship, those who were Athens.

       As time passed the concept of citizenship evolved. In political-philosophical debates, citizenship is the main center for interests. According to Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman, (2000), they argue that in political philosophy there have been two different and often separate debates about the issue of citizenship and group rights. The first part of the debate is about the minority rights and about the multiculturalism and the second part of the debate focuses on the concept of citizenship and the role of the citizens. According to both scholars, they argue that there is a need for the connection of both issues of multiculturalism and the groups’ rights and also the discussion what makes the person a good citizen. However, the right of the citizenship has been expanded through time and the framework of citizenship has widened from being local into a state-wide institution (Gershon 2008). With the emergence of nation-states, the idea of citizenship related to state people. People who are living in a defined territory, have their own sovereignty and share common values and culture known as citizens. Gershon argues that “The framework for modern citizenship rights is the state that is gradually transformed into a state for the nation, a nation-state” (1998). The concept of sovereignty requires that there is a defined area and this area is occupied by a nation or people who at least to some extent share common culture and sharing a common fate. The concept of citizenship relies on the concept of the nation-state. According to Avishai Margalit and Joseph Raz, the membership of a state is acquired by being born in that state or in a group that lives in that state. Qualification for membership is usually determined by non-voluntary criteria. One cannot choose to belong. One belongs because of who one is” (Margalit and Raz, 1990). On the other hand, some other states offer some other alternative to be a member of that state. According to Waldron, social structures that shame our lives are not necessarily natural and the claim that there always have been culturally homogenous peoples has to be treated with caution.

Definition by Various scholars

       Each country around the world has its own laws and policies on citizenship. As a result of international migration and the increase in the globalization, a trend made the concept of citizenship a core element of the political theory. The issues of citizenship arise when the citizens of different states or countries travel, work, or have interaction with each other. However, an individual is identified by his or her citizenship. In addition to that, citizenship allows a person to have the right and obligation in society. Citizenship is the legal institution that designates full membership in a state and the associated rights and duties. It provides benefits such as the right to vote, better employment opportunities, the ability to travel without restrictions, legal protection in case of criminal charges, and the possibility to obtain a visa for a relative (Bertocchi and Strozzi, 2009).

According to T.H. Marshall, he considered citizenship as “a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties which the status is endowed”. Marshal divided citizenship into three parts, civil, political and social. According to him, the civil part includes the rights necessary for individual freedom or the liberty of the person, freedom of speech, thought and faith, the right to own property and to conclude valid contracts, and the right to justice. Everyone in the society must be treated equally and his or her rights must be preserved by the state institutions. The political part is about the right to participate in the exercise of political power and in the state institutions. Citizens of every state who holds the legal right of that state to live in have the right to work and participate in the government institutions. For example, a citizen of a state can be a member of parliament or can participate in the council of any local government. Last but not least, by social element of citizenship Marshall meant that a citizen of a country or state has the right to take part in the economic welfare and security and has the right to share to the full in the social heritage and live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in the society.

Citizenship also has huge impacts on the country’s development. The increasing number of migration from one country to another country has impacts on the country’s economy. These migrants also influenced the decision-making processes of the countries which affect their lives. These issues lead to conflicts in the society and the priorities of the citizens in the host country or state. These issues led some countries to have strict laws and regulations for the citizenships. The modern states identify a particular set of people or individuals to be its citizens. There are also states which have non-citizens as aliens and migrants. There is a huge difference between citizens and foreigners. The citizens have certain rights, benefits and regulations and the rights of foreigners in are limited compared to the citizens of that state.

Dual citizenship

             Some people around the world have dual citizenship in two or multiple states. This means that a person who holds dual or multiple citizenships of a country, he has the full membership of that country and has the same rights, opportunities, and obligations to the state. Every country around the world has its own laws and policies for citizenship. A country may give dual citizenship to a person on different circumstances. The person may be born in that country or territory, or maybe for political reason or other such as through marriage of being threatened by his own country, or because of mobility (Wallace Goodman). Some countries are very resistant to this issue and they do not accept dual citizenship. However, with the trend of globalization, some liberal states tolerate and accept dual citizenship in some circumstances (Brondsted Sejersen 2008, and Blatter 2009).

The legal Dimension of Citizenship

  1. The liberal concept of citizenship:

            In the liberal theory, the concept of citizenship goes back to the Enlightenment period. In liberal theories, the idea of citizenship is based on the individual rights that are granted by the state. In the liberal state, all the citizens should be treated fairly and equally. Individuals are seen as the basic units of the society all possessing the same rights to participate in the political, economic and cultural life of society (Kymlicka 1989). Furthermore, in the liberal theory, the rights of the individual are the fundamental basis for society. All the citizens should be equal and possess the same rights in the state. In the liberal societies around the world, the citizens have the same rights regardless of their gender, race and wealth. Everyone in the state is equal before the law. Central to liberal thought is the notion that individual citizens act rationally to advance their own interests, and that the role of the state is to protect citizens in the exercise of their rights (Oldfield 1990). In the liberal theory of citizenship, equality before the law is one of the most important aspects. This notion gives individuals the same rights and opportunities. In addition to that, in the liberal tradition, one of the most important principles is that citizens should be given the right to choose their own way of living as long as they don’t harm others. They should be able to live their life and choose the ends they see worth striving for free from coercion (Berlin, 1969).

  1. The Republican Concept of Citizenship

                The Republican notion of citizenship is based on civic identity. Republicans believe that freedom and other common good cannot be achieved by individual alone. In the republican theory of citizenship, freedom is related to self-government and concern for the common good. In addition to that, freedom in the republican regime exists under the suitable law that protects the citizens from arbitrary interventions and despotism. Citizenship in the Republican state is based on the active role of the citizens. According to the republican thinkers, this is underpinned by a concern with individual obligations to participate in communal affairs (Oldfield 1990). So it means that good citizens of a state work for common good and they work and perform their responsibility. However, in the past time, the Republicans believed that the public comprised the citizenry, and only property-owning and arms-bearing men could be citizens (Dagger 2002). But the contemporary republicans define the public and citizens more widely and this includes women and those who don’t hold property. In the republican theory of citizenship, publicity and self-government are very important elements. These are the forces which can lead the people to do their duties as citizens. However, the liberal theory of citizenship focuses more on the privacy and individual rights and little on the public virtues. The Republicans believe that members in the societies must be prepared to overcome their personal inclinations and set aside their private interests when necessary to do what is best for the public as a whole (Dagger 2002). According to the republican thinkers, people who act in this way display public of civic virtue.

The political dimension of citizenship

Citizen Participation in Politics:

                 Political participation is one of the most important issues in the concept of citizenship. According to social scientists, political participation is one of the core elements of human rights. In the past time, people were not allowed to actively participate in the government decision process. The citizens were not allowed to take part in the political community and decision-making. In the ancient time, when the state and cities were under the control of religious leaders and kings most of the people did not have the right and opportunity to take part in political decision-making. However, later this tradition changed and people had the right to take part in the political, social and economic life. The liberals believe that it is the right of every individual to participate in the social, political and economic aspects. Individuals are seen as the basic units of society and all possessing the same rights to participate in the political, economic and cultural life of society (Kymlicka 1989).

Nationhood

             In the current modern era, the national disputes are so high and common. For many theorists, it is so difficult to define the term. Many attempts have been made to define nations, and none have been successful (H. Seton-Watson). However, some of the idealist thinkers li Herder and Hegel, for them, the nation is formed out of people who share a common spirit “Volksgeist” which manifests itself in their language, their customs, their myths, and their culture (Reicher and Hopkins, 2001). So it means that a nation refers to those people who share a language, literature, a set of ideas, and culture. There is a difference between the nation and the state. A nation is not a state. A state is a sovereign government and the nations are the people that live within that state. Some notion that a nation is a people, all members of which are politically connected with one another in a way that Lords and subjects in pre-national societies were not (Margaret Canovan 1996). This means that the two-term nation and state are different. There are some states that have existed and still exist and they are not nation-state like the Soviet Union (Margaret Canovan 1996).

State and Citizenship

               In the modern world state is the central concept in the political theory. They are very important actors in the world. State refers to a country that is considered as an organized political community by a government. In the ancient time, the idea of the state was not widely spread across the globe. There were not as city-states, but empires, princedoms, and tribes were much more widespread (Newton and Van Deth 2010). However, in today’s world, there are many states around the world, or the whole world is divided into states. A state is a political entity that has sovereignty, territory, government, its own rule of law, citizens, and economy. There are different types of states and they exist in a variety of size, some are large and some are small. States vary hugely, ranging from France under Louis XIV to Montenegro, recognized in 2006 as one of about 193 independent states in the world (Newton and Van Deth 2010). The tasks of the state are to protect its people, its territory, provide economic opportunities for its people. The state is the organization that issues and enforces binding rules for the people within a territory (Newton and Van Deth 2010).

           In the modern political world, every state officially defines its citizenry. They define s group or a set of people as their citizens according to the laws and regulation the state and others foreigners or non-citizens. These people within the state have certain rights and duties to the state and their fellow people. According to T.H Marshall, he stated that “citizenship is status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All of the citizens of the state who possess the status of citizenship are equal and have equal rights and duties to the state.

             Around the world some states are democratic and some are non-democratic. But all the states have the obligation to ensure the welfare of its citizens. The democratic states allow the citizens to have their own rights, choice and the government is accountable to the people. Furthermore, these states allow their citizens to have the freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of assembly and association, the right equal protection of the law, the right to due process of law and to fair trial, and property rights to land, goods and money (Newton and Van Deth 2010). The main goal of the democratic systems is to protect all these rights in the state.

References:

  1. Citizenship: Historical Development of Richard Bellamy, professor of Political Science UCL, London University and Director of the Max Weber Programme, European University Institute, Florence, (2014).
  2. Citizenship and Social Class, by T.H. Marshall, From Inequality and Society, edited by Jeff Manza and Michael Sauder, 2009.
  3. Challenges of Nationhood: Identities, citizenship and belonging under Kenya’s new Constitution, by the Society for International Development (SID), (2011).
  4. The Evolution of Citizenship, Economic and Institutional Determinants, by Chiara Strozzi & Graziella Bertocchi, (2009).
  5. Foundations of Comparative Politics, By Kenneth Newton and JanW. Van Deth, 2010
  6. Nationhood and Political Theory, by Margaret Canovan professor of politics, University of Keele, 1996.
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