A citizen is someone who belongs to a political group and has the right and obligation to exercise those rights. This broad definition can be seen in contemporary works as well as the entry “citoyen”, in Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie .] Despite this shared starting point and some common references  there are important differences between contemporary discussions and 18th-century discussions. The encyclopedist was concerned with the relationship between the concepts of “citizen” and “subject”, which is understandable for someone who grew up in a monarchy. Are they the same (as Hobbes claimed) or are they contradictory (as Aristotle suggested)? [ 3] Today, this issue is less important as people tend to assume that a liberal democratic system is the best place to start our reflections. However, this does not mean that the concept is uncontroversial. After a period of relative calm, there was a dramatic increase in philosophical interest in citizenship.
Theorists have been forced to reexamine the concept because of two broad challenges: First, the need for liberal democracies to recognize their internal diversity; and second, the effects of globalization on the sovereign, territorial state. We’ll be focusing on these two issues and examining the reasons for disagreements.
This entry is divided into four sections. The first section examines the major dimensions of citizenship (legal and political) and shows how they are manifested in two different models, the republican and the liberal. As a bridge to the second section, the feminist critique of the distinction between private and public, which is central to both models, also serves as an introduction. This section focuses on two crucial debates regarding the implications of cultural and social pluralism to conceptions and definitions of citizenship. First, should they recognize and transcend differences?
Second, how does recognition impact citizenship’s supposed role in strengthening social cohesion and integration? How can we understand the relationship between citizenship and nationality in pluralistic conditions? The third section deals with the challenges that globalization poses for theories of citizenship. These theories have taken as a given that citizenship is defined by the sovereign, territorial state.
These people are questioning the state’s ability to decide who is accepted into its ranks and/or claiming that citizenship is meaningful beyond the borders of the nation-state. In the fourth and final section of this entry, we will examine how recent discussions on animal rights and disability rights have challenged a fundamental premise of Aristotle’s literature on citizenship: that discursive rationality is a prerequisite for citizenship.
The concept in political philosophy
Citizenship is a concept in political philosophy that refers to not only a legal status but also to a normative ideal: the governed should participate fully and equally in the political process. It is an eminently democratic ideal. People who are governed under military dictatorships or monarchs are not citizens, but subjects. Citizenship theory is therefore viewed by most philosophers as an extension to democratic theory. While the democratic theory is concerned with political institutions and procedures, citizenship theory is focused on the attributes of individuals.
Citizenship theory is concerned with the necessity for citizens to be actively involved in politics. Participation in politics is optional and citizens are allowed to make private commitments before taking part in political life. However, apathy can lead to the collapse of democratic institutions. The identity of citizens is another topic. The purpose of citizenship is to give citizens a common identity and status that helps them integrate into society. Some theorists are unsure if common citizenship is capable of accommodating the growing social and cultural pluralism in modern societies.
Meaning of citizenship
Aristotle’s The Politics Book 3 (386-322) contains the first treatise about citizenship. It remains an indispensable reference point for any subsequent reflections on the meaning of citizenship. “The citizen in an unsanctioned sense is defined as one who is allowed to share in decision and office …. Any person that is sufficient with a view towards a self-sufficient existence is called a city” (p. Although Aristotle’s definitions of citizenship sound modest, they are a highly ambitious description of what human nature needs to thrive. Aristotle’s definition of citizenship is meant to reflect the unique experience of native-born males living in the polis. The definition reveals that very few human beings have ever been able to fully realize their humanity. This is because they are members of a political community that gives full play to their properly human (polis-based or politically-based) capabilities.
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