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By 02/03/2023No Comments

By Manuela Guilherme

The notion of ‘citizenship’ is directly linked with the creation of the nation-state. The idea of the Nation-State was conceived during the French Revolution and put into practice through the American Revolution, both having taken place by the end of the eighteenth century, being that the Nation managed its ethnic unity while the State managed its administration. The term ‘citizenship’ is linked with both components of the Nation-State, on the one hand, with its symbolic character which Anderson (1983) called the “imagined community” and, on the other hand, with the legal effects of such membership. Just after the second World War, the Jewish scholar Hanna Arendt (1951) claimed that the moment when particular ethnocultural identities of the citizens earned recognition by the state, the nation would have overcome the state.  

Although the implications of citizenship remain very dependent on the administrative link between the so-called citizen and the state, they cannot avoid the ethno-cultural bond with the nation while, in some cases in Europe, such an ethnocultural bond is perceived and more closely translated into biological heritage which overcomes the meaning of a territorial link. However, the borders of nationality and citizenship have become more and more porous and citizenship has been conceived as a defensive tool both for individuals and the state, if not to prop up fears among those who consider themselves as exclusive first-class citizens. The definition of citizenship should be brought to the core of the discussion about national political and social life which does not fit into any of the radical frameworks of nationalism, internationalism or even neoliberalism (Hindess 2002, Isin 2004). ‘Global’ or ‘transnational citizenship’ (Desforges, L., Jones, R. and Woods, M. 2005, van Bochove and Rusinovic 2008) must also be taken into account in contemporary times of globalisation and consequent strengthening of transnational institutions. 

Transnational citizenship can also be regional which is the case of the European Union. According to the EU Citizenship Report 2020, 9/10 of its citizens are now familiar with the term ‘citizen of the EU’, the highest number on record. Since the last EU Citizenship Report in 2017 there have been significant challenges in exercising EU citizenship rights – emergence of powerful social movements on issues such as climate change, economy and taxation, anti-racism and equality. Checking on European citizens’ mobility within the European Union and securing their rights has been made a transversal issue across all EU Citizenship Reports, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences have, on the one hand, limited these rights, but on the other hand, they have highlighted the value of solidarity between the member-states, as well as individual members of society (EU Citizenship Report 2020).  

Hence, another recently introduced term, “intercultural responsibility” (Guilherme 2020a, 2020b), brings in a discussion about national, inter- and trans-national citizenship, by taking into account matters of identity and solidarity, by countering the idea of neutrality, by questioning the principle of secularism, cultural universalism and assimilationism with regard to ethics and human rights.

Related References

Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso Books. 

Arendt, Hannah. 1951. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Meridian Books, The World Publishing Company. New York: Meridian Books, The World Publishing Company. 

Bochove, Marianne van, and Katja Rusinovic. 2008. “Transnationalism and Dimensions of Citizenship.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34 (8): 1337–43. 

Desforges, Luke, Rhys Jones, and Mike Woods. 2005. “New Geographies of Citizenship.” Citizenship Studies 9 (5): 439–51. 

Ellison, Nick. 1997. “Towards a New Social Politics: Citizenship and Reflexivity in Late Modernity.” Sociology 31 (4): 697–717. 

European Union. 2020. “EU Citizenship Report 2020: Empowering Citizens and Protecting Their Rights.” Brussels: European Union. 

Guilherme, Manuela. 2020a. “Intercultural Responsibility: Critical Inter-Epistemic Dialog and Equity for Sustainable Development.” In Partnerships for the Goals, edited by Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, and Tony Wall, 1–12. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 

———. 2020b. “Intercultural Responsibility: Transnational Research and Glocal Critical Citizenship.” In The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication, 343–60. Routledge. 

Hindess, Barry. 2002. “Neo-Liberal Citizenship.” Citizenship Studies 6 (2): 127–43. 

Isin, Engin F. 2004. “The Neurotic Citizen.” Citizenship Studies 8 (3): 217–35. 

Isin, Engin F. 2009. “Citizenship in Flux: The Figure of the Activist Citizen.” Subjectivity 29 (1): 367–88. 

Cite this entry as:

Guilherme, Manuela. 2023. ‘Citizenship’. In Populisms and Emotions Glossary, edited by Cristiano Gianolla and Maíra Magalhães Lopes. Available atário