Citizenship – Study Material

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Citizenship – Study Material

  • Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation.
  • A person may have multiple citizenships. A person who does not have citizenship of any state is said to be stateless, while one who lives on state borders whose territorial status is uncertain is a border-lander.
  • Nationality is often used as a synonym for citizenship in English – notably in international law – although the term is sometimes understood as denoting a person’s membership of a nation (a large ethnic group).In some countries, e.g. the United States, the United Kingdom, nationality and citizenship can have different meanings (for more information, see Nationality versus citizenship).

Polis :

  • Many thinkers point to the concept of citizenship beginning in the early city-statesof ancient Greece, although others see it as primarily a modern phenomenon dating back only a few hundred years and, for humanity, that the concept of citizenship arose with the first laws. Polis meant both the political assembly of the city-state as well as the entire society. Citizenship has generally been identified as a western phenomenon.There is a general view that citizenship in ancient times was a simpler relation than modern forms of citizenship, although this view has come under scrutiny. The relation of citizenship has not been a fixed or static relation, but constantly changed within each society, and that according to one view, citizenship might “really have worked” only at select periods during certain times, such as when the Athenian politician Solon made reforms in the early Athenian state.
  • Slavery permitted slaveowners to have substantial free time, and enabled participation in public life. Polis citizenship was marked by exclusivity. Inequality of status was widespread; citizens (πολίτης politēs< πόλις ‘city’) had a higher status than non-citizens, such as women, slaves, and resident foreigners (metics).The first form of citizenship was based on the way people lived in the ancient Greek times, in small-scale organic communities of the polis. Citizenship was not seen as a separate activity from the private life of the individual person, in the sense that there was not a distinction between public and private The obligations of citizenship were deeply connected into one’s everyday life in the polis. These small-scale organic communities were generally seen as a new development in world history, in contrast to the established ancient civilizations of Egypt or Persia, or the hunter-gatherer bands elsewhere. From the viewpoint of the ancient Greeks, a person’s public life was not separated from their private life, and Greeks did not distinguish between the two worlds according to the modern western conception. The obligations of citizenship were deeply connected with everyday life.

Roman Ideas :

In the Roman Empire, citizenship expanded from small-scale communities to the entire empire. Romans realized that granting citizenship to people from all over the empire legitimized Roman rule over conquered areas. Roman citizenship was no longer a status of political agency, as it had been reduced to a judicial safeguard and the expression of rule and law. Rome carried forth Greek ideas of citizenship such as the principles of equality under the law, civic participation in government, and notions that “no one citizen should have too much power for too long”, but Rome offered relatively generous terms to its captives, including chances for lesser forms of citizenship. If Greek citizenship was an “emancipation from the world of things”,[17] the Roman sense increasingly reflected the fact that citizens could act upon material things as well as other citizens, in the sense of buying or selling property, possessions, titles, goods. One historian explained:

Middle  Ages :

During the European Middle Ages, citizenship was usually associated with cities and towns, and applied mainly to middle class folk. Titles such as burgher, grand burgher (German Großbürger) and bourgeoisie denoted political affiliation and identity in relation to a particular locality, as well as membership in a mercantile or trading class; thus, individuals of respectable means and socioeconomic status were interchangeable with citizens.

Renaissance :

During the Renaissance, people transitioned from being subjects of a king or queen to being citizens of a city and later to a nation. Each city had its own law, courts, and independent administration And being a citizen often meant being subject to the city’s law in addition to having power in some instances to help choose officials. City dwellers who had fought alongside nobles in battles to defend their cities were no longer content with having a subordinate social status, but demanded a greater role in the form of citizenship. Membership in guilds was an indirect form of citizenship in that it helped their members succeed financially. The rise of citizenship was linked to the rise of republicanism, according to one account, since independent citizens meant that kings had less power. Citizenship became an idealized, almost abstract, concept,[ and did not signify a submissive relation with a lord or count, but rather indicated the bond between a person and the state in the rather abstract sense of having rights and duties.

Modern Times :

The modern idea of citizenship still respects the idea of political participation, but it is usually done through “elaborate systems of political representation at a distance” such as representative democracy. Modern citizenship is much more passive; action is delegated to others; citizenship is often a constraint on acting, not an impetus to act. Nevertheless, citizens are usually aware of their obligations to authorities, and are aware that these bonds often limit what they can do.

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