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Citizenship

The concept of citizenship is often defined as a set of rights and duties by the virtue of membership to a society in its current form emerged with their versions of nation state concept. In traditional societies people used to have little concern over who ruled them and they had a little feeling of being a part of a larger whole. An important precondition for the rise of citizenship is a collective feeling of being a part of single national identity. Early political thinkers like Plato and  Aristotle argued for a limited citizenship to a few ;based on certain criteria like education, wealth and lineage. Ancient Greek city -states had only limited citizenship. 

According to the historian Geoffrey Hoskin in his 2005 Modern Scholar lecture ; citizenship in ancient Greece arose from an appreciation for the significance of freedom in a society where slavery was prevalent. 

 

According to social contract theory ,citizenship brings along with both rights and duties. TH Marshall also define citizenship in his Class ,Citizenship and Social development 1973 in terms of membership of a community which brings 3 types of rights and duties which are civic political and social. Civil citizenship emerged as a result of the rise of the concept of property ownership as it is required certain mutual obligations to respect each other’s property rights. Political citizenship emerged when free speech developed and everyone was created equal by means like universal adult franchise. Social citizenship embodies notions of rights for welfare and responsibility for collective provision of social benefits. Marshall regarded the right to social welfare as an important safeguard against sections of the population being enfranchised in the theory but in effect excluded from the society by poverty. He believed that the 3 components are required in the order set out above. According to feminist theories, women acquisition of citizenship entitlement has not necessarily followed that order. Voting rights in many countries were given before they were given full equality before the law or the civic equality. 

 

Marxist scholars believe  citizenship as a concept is a myth as there is no equality in a capitalist society. True equality can only be there if  forces of production can be collectively owned. A capitalist society can only have classes of citizens like first class citizen and second class citizen. In heterogeneous  society where many cultural values divide the members of society citizenship act as a common denominator that binds people. According to Derek Heater in his A Brief History of Citizenship, it is also viewed as a day democratising force as everybody possess it in the same manner irrespective of status and powerful stop citizenship has seen in other perspectives as well.

 

Mark Smith in his Ecologism: Towards Ecological Citizenship ,highlights that the time has come now to stress upon the concept of ecological citizenship in the wake of global ecological crisis. It involves obligations towards not only fellow beings but towards animals and future generations of humanity as well. According to Gail Omvedt citizenship in India has been paradoxical as it theoretically grant equal rights but caste dynamics make Dalit lesser citizen when it comes to enjoying democratic rights. Similarly is the case with sexual discrimination where patriarchal society thwarts constitutional gains. Brian Turner in his Handbook of Citizenship Studies ,content  that modern citizenship is largely a passive citizenship as there is lack of direct democracy. Representative democracy narrows down the scope of exercise of various rights and duties. As a result of globalization migration and frequent travel cosmopolitan outlook is making great strides a new concept of global citizenship are emerging cutting across nation state boundaries. 

 

 

Emagzine