Theories of Citizenship

Michael Lister

in Citizenship in Contemporary Europe

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633418
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671977 | DOI:
Theories of Citizenship

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The relationship between individuals and the political community has been conceptualised in a number of different ways. This chapter will consider three different classical conceptions of citizenship. The first is the liberal conception, which, unsurprisingly, takes the individual as the main focus. A liberal theory of citizenship emphasises the equality of rights which each citizen holds, and how these rights enable the individual to pursue their aims and goals. The second theory, communitarianism, is critical of this position. For communitarians, the individual does not exist prior to the community. As such, it argues that the liberal theory fails to consider duty or loyalty to the community, ignores the social nature of individuals and, in emphasising rights, ignores responsibilities and duties owed to the community. A third theory of citizenship is the republican tradition. It emphasises participation in government as the foundation for the promotion of the civic good. It is critical of both the liberal perspective, which it sees as too fragmentary, and also, the communitarian view, as it is wary of local identities being placed above wider civic goals.

Keywords: Citizenship; Liberal; Liberal Citizenship; Communitarianism; Communitarian Citizenship; Republicanism; Republican Citizenship; Rights; Duties; Participation

Chapter.  10046 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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