Active Citizenship for Europe and International Understanding

Derek Heater

in Active Citizenship

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638666
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671939 | DOI:
Active Citizenship for Europe and International Understanding

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This chapter considers the role of active citizenship in Europe and other parts of the world. It acknowledges the predisposition to regard the city or nation state as the primary sphere of citizen's rights and responsibilities, but identifies a long-standing tradition of thinking about cosmopolitan citizenship going back to the Stoics and Romans. The commitment to transnational matters ought not to be deleterious to a citizen's other responsibilities, but active citizenship requires institutions through which to act. The chapter argues that it is necessary for active European or world citizens to have effective supranational institutions, and outlines the existing opportunities for citizen engagement at a European Union level and through international organisations. It also explains why transnational active citizenship has been weak in Britain both in terms of party policies and the deficiency of information on international matters in the popular press. However, it takes an ‘idealist’ perspective: the ‘political illiteracy of the multitude’ on European and international affairs is not irremediable.

Keywords: active citizenship; Europe; supranational institutions; European Union; international organisations; Britain; political illiteracy

Chapter.  6812 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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