Citizenship is a concept of social relations which involves a number of elements, mainly a sense of belonging to a community which you can shape and influence directly. This can be defined in a variety of ways, such as loyalty to a common moral code, an identical set of rights and obligations, a commitment to a commonly owned civilisation or a shared cultural heritage.
A citizen is someone who has a legal right to participate in the affairs of the state, including voting and holding political office. They also posses certain responsibilities, such as military service and paying tax.
The origin of the concept can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where citizenship was a privileged status for those who could claim to have a connection with the state. This included property owners, such as the king or a family, and those who had inherited their wealth or were part of an extended family (in kinship terms).
This was then passed on to the Romans who used the term civitas to denote those who could claim citizenship. This was not limited to property owners, however; women, slaves and residents from foreign states were categorized as subjects and therefore lacked the right to vote or hold any office in a state.
In a modern society, the right to be a citizen is embodied in laws which give individuals and communities the power to act and make decisions for the good of all citizens. These laws are designed to ensure that citizens have the rights they need in order to live and work in a safe environment, enjoy their liberty and dignity, and participate in civic life.
Laws may apply to all aspects of a person’s personal, social and economic lives. These include the right to have a job and earn a living, the right to have access to education and medical care, and the right to live in a clean environment and free from crime.
These are just a few of the many laws which govern citizens’ activities and behaviour in a democratic society. These laws may be in the form of regulations, ordinances and statutes.
They are enforced through a system of courts and government departments. They also give people the right to sue for damages or compensation from those who infringe upon their rights.
It is important to remember that laws and government departments are not all created equal, so it is crucial to know the rules and restrictions which govern your specific situation. It is always important to seek the advice of a qualified professional to help you understand the law and your rights.
The importance of active citizenship is a key theme in the new Coalition government’s Big Society and its commitment to building cohesive and resilient communities, ensuring that each citizen is empowered and responsible for making a difference to their own neighbourhood. This requires citizens to be involved in public and volunteer activities, and to contribute to their local community by tackling problems and improving life for others.