The Capacity For Citizenship

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If you are a citizen, you pay taxes, obey the law and participate in civic life. Being a good citizen is about helping others, respecting and promoting your country, and ensuring that your government takes care of you. It’s also about giving back to your community and promoting a sense of belonging.

While discussions of citizenship often focus on political rights and responsibilities, conceptions of the concept differ considerably. Most theories have in common the notion that the necessary framework for citizenship is a sovereign, territorial state. However, for the last twenty years, there has been much debate about whether this notion is able to account for all of the different ways that citizens interact with each other and with their public institutions.

Contemporary republican and democratic theories tend to conceive of citizenship as an active participation in a civil society, including voting in elections and participating in civil society activities. Moreover, these theories have long viewed the relation between citizenship and a sense of attachment to a nation as a determining factor for a person’s political agency.

Nevertheless, many people do not feel that they are fully engaged in the political process. Some, for instance, argue that voting is only a tiny part of the work of citizenship and that the rest is done by other kinds of participation that do not involve going to polling stations and sporting an “I Voted!” sticker. They suggest that if we are to fulfil our duties as citizens, we need a broader range of ways to be involved in politics, including campaigning for candidates, debating policies, organizing civil disobedience and demonstrating against government decisions.

For these kinds of activities, it is widely believed that the capacity for citizenship depends on a degree of rational, discursive competence and a willingness to compromise. But such a view runs into difficulties when we consider that some individuals, especially those with deep cognitive disabilities, do not have these capacities.

The capacity for citizenship can, of course, be learned, and a good way to start is by understanding what it means to be a good citizen. To do so, it helps to start with a definition of citizenship and then look at some specific acts that a good citizen will engage in. For example, one act that a good citizen will perform is to conserve natural resources. This means reducing, reusing and recycling materials in order to cut down on waste disposal costs. It will also help to protect water and other natural resources which are vital for human survival. This is a simple but powerful act that any individual can do and which has real benefits to the country as a whole. It is a very good example of what it means to be a good citizen.