The Concept of Citizenship

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Citizenship is an allegiance to and a relationship with the state and usually carries with it recognition of civil, political, and social rights that are not granted or acknowledged to non-citizens. It is typically associated with the right to a passport, the right to work within a country, and the right to return to one’s country of citizenship after leaving it for an extended period. Citizenship is also an important part of the public sphere, with citizens having various responsibilities such as obeying laws and serving on juries.

Different conceptions of citizenship differ from one another in many ways, but they tend to be based on two major models: the republican and the liberal. In the republican model, citizenship is a relationship of mutual obligation between the citizen and the government, with each having duties and rights that the other owes them. This model is often seen as a response to the problem of inequality and the need to build a society where everyone has a chance to become successful.

The liberal model of citizenship, on the other hand, is based on a more abstract and universalist concept that transcends the cultural differences of individuals and groups. The origins of the liberal model lie in the Roman Empire and early modern reflections on that law. The expansion of the empire caused citizenship to extend to conquered peoples, transforming its original meaning from a relationship of mutual obligation to a legal status that confers certain benefits on the person. The liberal conception of citizenship is often associated with the desire to create a democratic public sphere that encompasses different perspectives and that respects, rather than excludes, difference (Habermas 2001b).

Citizenship can be an overwhelming task for someone new to a country or city. However, becoming a good citizen begins with education and understanding the role of the public sphere in democracy. Learning about the history and the workings of our local, state, and national governments will help you to be a better citizen. In addition, you can get involved by getting registered to vote and participating in your government. Citizenship is a life-long journey, and we can all improve the quality of our lives by being more active participants in our community, state, and nation.