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The word ‘citizenship’ is derived from the Latin civis and its Greek equivalent polites, which
means member of the polis or city. The notion of citizenship has evolved historically, and grasp
the complexities of contemporary debates. Contemporary debates on citizenship raise questions
around notions of equality and rights, issues of individual, group and community rights, active
and passive citizenship and the relationship between, and relative primacy of, rights and duties. 
There is no consensus on whether citizenship is only a status or a measure of activity, or what is
of primary significance for citizenship—the autonomy of the individual or the community and
the societal contexts that shape the needs of the individual. Even on questions pertaining to the
legitimate unit of citizenship identity, viz., the nation-state, or the global civil society, there is a
lock of consensus. In order to understand why these contradictions coexist in the conceptual
framework of citizenship, it is important to see them in terms of historically emergent strands.
The notion of citizenship has acquired renewed salience and popularity over the past two
decades. Today, citizenship as an issue has become increasingly prominent because the
traditional boundaries of the nation-state have been profoundly challenged by global
developments that have affected the organization of modern societies. The social division and
marginalization brought about by the economic restructuring (neo-liberal policy) of the 1970s
and 1980s, and the growth of multiculturalism resulting from global migration and
communication flow, have brought in doubt the capacity of the state to satisfy a diverse range of
needs and demands for participation. At the level of theory, it is a natural evolution in political
discourse because the concept of citizenship seems to integrate the demands of justice and
community membership—the central concept of political philosophy in the 1970s and 1980s,
respectively It is important, moreover, to explore these various strands in their specific historical
contexts, keeping in mind, however, that at each historical moment the earlier strands co-existed,
keeping alive the tensions and uncertainties over the form and content of citizenship.
What do we mean by citizenship, and its near developments?
citizenship is all about the rights attained through law and the duties attached to the freedom
provided in a nation state, along with the sense of belonging and nationalism not to forget that
citizenship as an issue has become increasingly prominent because the traditional boundaries of
the nation-state have been profoundly challenged by global developments that have affected the
organization of modern societies. The idea of citizenship, however, goes beyond the legal-formal
framework to denote substantive membership in the political community. The commonly
accepted definition of citizenship by T.H. Marshall in Citizenship and Social Class (1950) as
‘full and equal membership in a political community’ holds the promise of equality and
integration within the political community. Today the growing interest in citizenship has led to
the questioning the standardized formation of rights within the legal constitutional framework,
beyond the legal formal terms citizenship has accrued a normative connotation of understanding
the social reality. 

This development of citizenship rights has involved a series of struggles to dismantle the modes
of exclusion that prevented membership of marginal groups to the political community, making
protection the center of radical politics in the modern state by universalizing the citizenship
rights and creating appropriate socio economic conditions for inclusion. Therefore it becomes
safe to say that today citizenship constitutes of an overarching identity that conceals all the other
identities to produce what we call masked/unmarked ‘EQUAL’ citizens who have the ability to
judge in relation to their own interest and not based on race, class, religion, gender or any other
single aspect of their identity. Thus citizenship is able to satisfy the political impulse of humans,
termed as ‘RECOGNITION’ by Hegel. The sense of inclusion within the wider society
recognizes an individual’s contribution and grants individual autonomy as well. Making the key
defining feature of citizenship as participation which is differentiated from subject-hood,
citizenship is often considered as active or passive and is simply incompatible with domination
be it of any kind, family, state or ethnic group.

Citizenship doesn’t merely rely on the rights and autonomy it provides us with or the equal
recognition in society but citizenship is always a reciprocal, meaning it’s a two way process
and therefore is a social idea and not an individual benefiting idea. It can never be purely a set of
rights that frees the individual from obligation to others. Rights always require a framework for
their recognition and mechanisms through which this can be fulfilled, a framework including
social duties, schools, hospitals and courts where all citizens are required to fulfill and play their
part to maintain it. It basically implies that citizenship implies duties and obligations and well as
rights which are to be attained in exchange of each other in a societal framework.  

This means that citizenship implies duties and obligations, as well as rights. In addition to this
contemporary thinking on citizenship especially in context of rights and duties, the question of
individual citizens and enjoy rights independent of the context/circumstances to which he or she
belongs. Since 1980’s multiculturalism, plurality, diversity and difference have become
significant terms of reference in thinking about citizenship. And therefore emerged the question
of global citizenship or world citizenship.


Classical Citizenship in Theory
The term ‘classical’ comes with a double bind: first, something which denotes ideal or
authoritative and is hence worthy of serious attention; and second, it has reference to a particular
period in history that in turn refers to the ancient civilization, especially to Athens in the fifth and
fourth centuries bc and later to that of Rome
Aristotle The classic theory of citizenship is associated with special reference to Aristotle since
he was the first one to ever bring up the theoretical concept of citizenship in his book Politics
while the practice of citizenship found its first institutional expression in the Greek Polis, notably
in Athens from the fifth century until the fourth century BC. 
Talking about the kind of citizenship Athens enjoyed he also makes it clear that duality that
shapes the public private divide is inexistent in Athens and whatever is political becomes social
and social becomes political, meaning that human survival is impossible without a political setup
and social scenario. In accordance with what Ashok Acharya said, the origin of the political
community is human and it is very natural. 
This is where he even tries to say that the ends of survival or goals of one’s (man) life is a good
life. And for a person in polis only the best work performed in polis can lead the way to achieve
“good life” because the aim of polis is good life. Good life here means self-sufficiency and
according to Aristotle this self-sufficiency can be attained only in polis.  
Aristotle has talked about partnership and this partnership is in relation to the similarities of
political social aspects which can happen in polis making him a communitarian for many. 
Aristotle has also stated about how humans are distinct from all other creatures naturally because
of the two elements gifted only to humans, them being rationality and speech. Rationality helps
us decide what is correct or wrong, just or unjust and make thoughtful decisions and speech
allows us to make our life just or unjust, it lets us express and put forth our rationality.   But
further he went forward with the argument saying that Polis is greater than the citizens and the
citizens are actually subordinates and the actions of citizens are to be geared toward the
wellbeing of the polis which makes the state omnipresent or omnipotent and citizens just become
As Hegel once said that state is the march of god on earth for Aristotle it’s similar, making him
the father since he was the first one to talk about this. 

Aristotle defined a state as a collective body of citizens, and a citizen in Aristotle’s view was the
‘one who enjoyed the right of sharing in deliberative and judicial office for any period fixed or
unfixed’. The organization of the republic was based on the notions of familiarity and trust,
commitment to civic virtue and the common good, principles of active political participation,
the prioritization of public and political aspects of life over private interests, and the primacy of
the identity of man as citizen. Citizens in polis ran their own affairs, acting as both legislators
and executors, and defined themselves through a highly developed sense of military obligation
making citizenship a common good and common endeavor among citizens. The constitution was
not a legal document but a way of life, with every Athenian participating with total commitment.
In the process, individuals acquired a civic personality and a sense of responsibility.

Aristotle tha further talked about the natural inequalities present within all of us, justifying my
making a relation between the ones who are born to rule and the others who are born to be ruled.
In order to understand this better we can see around us that some people have certain abilities
and certain don’t make activities and participation easier and faster. This can be understood as
natural inequalities present within all of us by birth justified this by saying “our soul rules our
body, and our intellect rules our appetite” and also said that it’s okay to be ruled by someone else
because at the end all these distinctions were created by us. But Aristotle still supports equality
within the equals, as (only citizens) can rule in polis and can be ruled in return. This could be
understood as change in leadership. 

With the above explanation we understand that Aristotle never really believed in proper equality
as the status of citizenship in the polis was, however, highly exclusive. In fact, the primary
difference between pre-modern and modern citizenship is that in ancient Greece and Rome, as
well as in those cities that practiced citizenship in the middle ages, inequality of status was
accepted without question. Indeed, citizenship was valued in part because of its exclusive nature
and because it stood as a mark of superiority over noncitizens, whether they be women, resident
foreigners, slaves or the peasantry. Hierarchy and exclusion were axiomatic in ancient Greece.
Slaves were excluded from citizenship as they lacked the deliberative faculty. Women were seen
as lacking the necessary rationality required for political participation.  According to him
only men with wealth and leisure time could exercise citizenship and the social duties/actions
associated with it. Therefore even added that citizens must have certain virtues, where a couple
of them are fixed (ascribed) and the rest can be attained through education and legality. 
The idea of ‘ruling and being ruled in turn’, Aristotle argued, must apply to ‘things
advantageous’. He goes on to argue that ‘immediately from birth certain things diverge, some
toward being ruled, others toward ruling’. For as the soul rules the body, ‘intellect’ rules over
‘appetite’; it is advantageous for both the body and the appetite to be ruled by the soul and the
intellect. This sets the tone for the master-slave relationship, as one where the master is the ruler
and the slave the ruled. This relationship, Aristotle would contend, is not an equal one, and the
axiom of ‘ruling and being ruled in turn’ would only apply among equals. Similarly, ‘the
relation of male to female is by nature a relation of superior to inferior and ruler to ruled’. The
slave ‘participates in reason only to the extent of perceiving it, but does not have it’. It is
important to notice that in building these relationships of inequality, he is making a larger case
for separating the household (oikos) from the polis. By separating the work of the master from
that of the slave and man from woman, Aristotle’s polis builds up a public sphere that belongs
only to adult males.

In The Politics, Aristotle claims that ‘just as man is the best of the animals when
completed, when separated from law and adjudication he is the worst of all’. Further on, he
would make a stronger case for the rule of law over the rule of men. In a stronger sense, the rule
of law better reflects the principle of ‘ruling and being ruled in turn’,

At last he justified why a man who needs to be ruled as human is the most majestic creature of
political nature, could also be called a political animal. But if this same man is not ruled and
controlled then could become the worst political animal, therefore even prefers the rule of law
(governance) over rule of men (dictatorship). According to Aristotle Laws shape citizens’
characters, and education fosters a collective spirit. Aristotle favours a state-sponsored education
programme, which should be common to all and is not to be introduced on a private basis. ‘Since
there is a single end for the city as  whole, it is evident that education must necessarily be one
and the same for all’

Aristotle’s works on citizenship as a full-blown account in The Politics is one of the earliest
systematic attempts to theorize the subject. His limitations apart, The Politics has inspired almost
all successive scholars to imagine and engage with the ideal of citizenship in their own times,
most of all in the modern period.