Civic Republicanism and Citizenship: the Challenge for Today

Bernard Crick

in Active Citizenship

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638666
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671939 | DOI:
Civic Republicanism and Citizenship: the Challenge for Today

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This chapter presents a conceptual history of civic republicanism and citizenship and identifies within this lineage, as an alternative history of citizenship theory to the dominant liberal tradition, a corrective to what it sees as the overly individualistic, litigious and inactive nature of contemporary political life. It evokes Benjamin Constant's 1820 work The Liberty of the Ancients Compared to that of the Moderns to highlight the contrast between the classical aim of sharing ‘social power among citizens of the same fatherland’ with the modern preference for the ‘enjoyment of liberty in private pleasures’ where ‘the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures’ are called liberty. A requirement of greater citizenship participation is the dispersal of power from central institutions, not just from Westminster to devolved assemblies, but from ‘stifling central bureaucracy’ to civil society, and within political parties from leaders to membership. The chapter notes the declared willingness of political leaders to accept this, but it identifies an obstacle to devolution in what it calls the ‘post-code lottery’ argument.

Keywords: civic republicanism; citizenship; Benjamin Constant; social power; liberty; citizenship participation; civil society; devolution; post-code lottery

Chapter.  4556 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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