In political and legal theory, citizenship refers to the rights and duties of the member of a nation-state or city. In some historical contexts, a citizen was any member of a city; that is, an urban collectivity which was relatively immune from the demands of a monarch or state. In classical Greece, citizenship was limited to free men, who had a right to participate in political debate because they contributed, often through military service, to the direct support of the city-state. It is argued by historians that citizenship has thus expanded with democratization to include a wider definition of the citizen regardless of sex, age, or ethnicity. The concept was revived in the context of the modern state , notably during the French and American Revolutions, and gradually identified more with rights than obligations. In modern times citizenship refers conventionally to the various organizations which institutionalize these rights in the welfare state .
In sociology, recent theories of citizenship have drawn their inspiration from T. H. Marshall , who defined citizenship as a status which is enjoyed by a person who is a full member of a community. Citizenship has three components: civil, political, and social. Civil rights are necessary for individual freedoms and are institutionalized in the law courts. Political citizenship guarantees the right to participate in the exercise of political power in the community, either by voting, or by holding political office. Social citizenship is the right to participate in an appropriate standard of living; this right is embodied in the welfare and educational systems of modern societies. The important feature of Marshall's theory was his view that there was a permanent tension or contradiction between the principles of citizenship and the operation of the capitalist market . Capitalism inevitably involves inequalities between social classes , while citizenship involves some redistribution of resources, because of rights which are shared equally by all.
Marshall's theory has given rise to much dispute. Critics argue that it is a description of the English experience only, and it is not a comparative analysis of citizenship; that it has an evolutionary and teleological view of the inevitable expansion of citizenship, and does not examine social processes which undermine citizenship; it does not address gender differences in the experience of citizenship; it fails to address other types of citizenship, such as economic citizenship; and it is not clear about the causes of the expansion of citizenship. Some sociologists believe that Marshall's argument can be rescued from these criticisms if the original theory is modified. The continuing debate is reflected in the papers collected in, Citizenship Today: The Contemporary Relevance of T. H. Marshall (1996).
There are very different traditions of citizenship in different societies. Active citizenship, which is based on the achievement of rights through social struggle, is very different from passive citizenship which is handed down from above by the state (see, Nation-Building and Citizenship, 1964). There are also very different theoretical approaches to understanding the structure of the public and private realm in conceptions of citizenship. For some sociologists, such as Talcott Parsons , the growth of citizenship is a measure of the modernization of society because it is based on values of universalism and achievement . These different theoretical traditions are primarily the product of two opposed views of citizenship: it is either viewed as an aspect of bourgeois liberalism , in which case it involves a conservative view of social participation, or it is treated as a feature of radical democratic politics; it is either dismissed as a mere reform of capitalism, or it is regarded as a fundamental plank of democracy . Recently, sociologists have gone beyond these traditional theories of democracy, liberalism, and civil society , to ask questions about the changing relationships between individuals, communities, and states, in a world in which the nation-state is increasingly subject to influences from supranational institutions. Will globalization replace state citizenship with a truly universal conception of human rights? (Speculative answers to this and related questions will be found in, Citizenship and Social Theory, 1993.)’s Citizenship (1988) is an excellent discussion of the (now extensive) literature surrounding the concept.See also industrial democracy.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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