Sunday, February 14, 2010


Massar retrospective 2

Two common strands run through the canon of work on the subject of citizenship. First, the term citizenship is frequently conflated with direct engagement in a prevailing political process. A common citizenship “challenge”, for example in the US or UK, is seen as making politics relevant to young people and encouraging them to participate in the democratic process of electing representatives. A ”citizen” is deemed primarily to be one who properly carries out their part of the contract between a state and its people. Second, in a world of shifting populations, citizenship is increasingly intertwined with notions of nationality and legitimacy of residence in a country. This concept of citizenship touches on circumstance of birth, ethnicity, passport, and often a capacity to fit with (or indeed pass an examination in) some official doctrine of national identity.

The definition of active citizenship for Massar has centred on a different concept: that of fostering a sense of individual responsibility for achieving common good. Massar’s definition is more aligned with the current notion of “global citizens” – people who are aware that our communal global state (irrespective of national borders) results from an interconnected multitude of tiny individual choices and actions, and who are motivated to take action as individuals to make that communal state better. For Massar the outcome of citizenship is a healthy society (whether local, national or global) rather than nationhood.


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