homepage
rss
site map
about
events
links
choose language
Intercultural
Lexicon

Secularisation and Post-Secularisation

“Secularisation” means the process that has above all characterised western countries during the contemporary era and led to the progressive abandonment of religious rules and sacral kinds of behaviour..

Read more

Mestizo

Following the conquest of the Americas, the word “mestizo” was used to indicate children born of parents belonging to different races, usually and an American Indian woman and a white man (or vice versa).

Read more

Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism means the literal and dogmatic interpretation of holy texts (but these may also be secular texts), the prescriptive indications of which are considered the foundations of all action.

Read more

Revolution

Though its semantic origins are pre-modern, revolution has been a fundamental category of the interpretation of modern times.

Read more

Tolerance

After the Nineties of the 20th Century tolerance returned to the centre stage in political thought, returning to fashion a concept that has certainly been central within the framework of political thought in modern times, but that appeared to have become a closed book with the French Revolution that...

Read more
Reset
A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Intercultural Lexicon
IT Monday, 6 November 2006

Citizenship

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti

Citizenship means the shared political belonging of those living in the same state and all this belonging involves in terms of rights and duties. One cannot however say that all members of a state are necessarily citizens: in and absolute monarchy one speaks of subjects, in a dictatorship one would speak of the people or fellow countrymen, but not precisely citizens.


The word citizenship in fact, not only describes the belonging to the same political unit, but also indicates the legislative outline of this belonging. Citizens are those who not only share a political destiny, but also contribute to forging it, participating directly, or more often through representatives, in the drafting of the laws they are then obliged to obey. In other words citizens are the co-authors of the political system that hence can only be a democratic one.

Citizenship and democracy are broad words, to the extent that the fullness of citizenship within a state defines also the fullness of democracy in that state. If the number of citizens, hence of those who are not only subject to the authority of the law, but also contribute to its drafting thanks to the right to exercise political rights, is small compared to the number of inhabitants in the state, democracy would be equally limited. If only white, Christian males, with a certain income and education hold active and passive political rights, then all other social categories (women, the poor, Jews, black people, foreigners) become “subjects” as far as state law is concerned, subject to its provisions but with no say in drafting these laws.

It is thus that the long history of extended voting rights in the course of the 19th and the 20th Centuries is also known as the conquest of citizenship by classes and groups previously excluded on the basis of various reasons, usually linked to the identification of the ideal type of citizen having some of the characteristics and capabilities belonging to the dominant classes. The battle for universal suffrage were therefore battles for achieving democracy based on the criticism of the factors considered indispensable for citizenship. The broadening of citizenship had to overcome prejudice concerning the pre-conditions for defining someone as a citizen. Neither class, nor the degree of education, religion, gender or race can become legitimate obstacles to the acknowledgment of a member of the political community as a citizen, hence the holder of political rights as well as subject to political duties.

While generally speaking citizenship is understood, within the universalistic political vocabulary, as democracy and liberalism, it has however always preserved a degree of ambiguity since it is implicitly also a reference to national belonging. In this sense, the concept is used to differentiate an “us” from a “them” according to state borders. This more particularistic dimension of citizenship recently emerged in discussions addressing on one hand immigration, and on the other global justice. In democracies, a part from minors, immigrants are the only subjects without political rights. Access to citizenship of the host country is more or less complicated depending on the level of openness in the democracy referred to.

The distinction between citizenship based on the ius sanguinis and based on the ius soli differentiates more “particularistic” and nationalistic citizenship from more political and universalistic concepts. Analogously, recent studies on global justice show two main positions, with numerous intermediate elements. On one hand there is the cosmopolitan idea according to which the subjects of justices are individuals, regardless of contingent conditions concerning political belonging, and on the other there is the idea according to which only those sharing a destiny of citizenship, and are the co-authors of the laws they must then obey, are the appropriate subjects of justice. Citizenship is therefore acknowledged as the indispensable basis for the attribution of social rights, but thereby becomes a factor of exclusion for non-citizens and those outside the state.

Write a comment

Newsletter

Sign up to receive our newsletter


Questo sito utilizza i cookies per offrirti una migliore esperienza di navigazione, in particolare vengono utilizzati cookies tecnici per consentire la normale navigazione e fruizione del sito stesso e dei suoi servizi; cookies di terze parti per raccogliere informazioni, in forma aggregata, sul numero degli utenti del nostro sito e su come questi visitano lo stesso e cookie di profilazione al fine di inviare messaggi pubblicitari in linea con le preferenze manifestate dall'utente nell'ambito della navigazione in rete.

Se vuoi saperne di più o negare il consenso a tutti o solo ad alcuni cookies clicca qui.
Se nascondi questo banner o accedi a un qualunque elemento della pagina acconsenti all'uso dei cookies.