History of citizenship

History of citizenship describes the changing relation between an individual and the state, commonly known as citizenship. Citizenship is generally identified not as an aspect of Eastern civilization but of Western civilization.[1] There is a general view that citizenship in ancient times was a simpler relation than modern forms of citizenship, although this view has been challenged.[2]

aspect of history
Ancient Athenian armor from the 6th century BCE called a greave covered a citizen-soldier’s knee and lower leg. A hoplite‘s armor signified its owner’s social status as well as his service to the community. (Snodgrass 1967 (1999), 58–59)

While there is disagreement about when the relation of citizenship began, many thinkers point to the early city-states of ancient Greece, possibly as a reaction to the fear of slavery, although others see it as primarily a modern phenomenon dating back only a few hundred years. In Roman times, citizenship began to take on more of the character of a relationship based on law, with less political participation than in ancient Greece but a widening sphere of who was considered to be a citizen. In the Middle Ages in Europe, citizenship was primarily identified with commercial and secular life in the growing cities, and it came to be seen as membership in emerging nation-states. In modern democracies, citizenship has contrasting senses, including a liberal-individualist view emphasizing needs and entitlements and legal protections for essentially passive political beings, and a civic-republican view emphasizing political participation and seeing citizenship as an active relation with specific privileges and obligations.

While citizenship has varied considerably throughout history, there are some common elements of citizenship over time. Citizenship bonds extend beyond basic kinship ties to unite people of different genetic backgrounds, that is, citizenship is more than a clan or extended kinship network. It generally describes the relation between a person and an overall political entity such as a city-state or nation and signifies membership in that body. It is often based on, or a function of, some form of military service or expectation of future military service. It is generally characterized by some form of political participation, although the extent of such participation can vary considerably from minimal duties such as voting to active service in government. And citizenship, throughout history, has often been seen as an ideal state, closely allied with freedom, an important status with legal aspects including rights, and it has sometimes been seen as a bundle of rights or a right to have rights.[3] Last, citizenship almost always has had an element of exclusion, in the sense that citizenship derives meaning, in part, by excluding non-citizens from basic rights and privileges.

. . . History of citizenship . . .

Contrasting senses of citizenship from ancient times to the present day, according to Peter Zarrow.[1]

While a general definition of citizenship is membership in a political society or group, citizenship as a concept is difficult to define. Thinkers as far back as Aristotle realized that there was no agreed-upon definition of citizenship.[4]:p.17 And modern thinkers, as well, agree that the history of citizenship is complex with no single definition predominating.[5] It is hard to isolate what citizenship means without reference to other terms such as nationalism, civil society, and democracy.[1] According to one view, citizenship as a subject of study is undergoing transformation, with increased interest while the meaning of the term continues to shift.[6] There is agreement citizenship is culture-specific: it is a function of each political culture. Further, how citizenship is seen and understood depends on the viewpoint of the person making the determination, such that a person from an upper class background will have a different notion of citizenship than a person from the lower class. The relation of citizenship has not been a fixed or static relation, but constantly changes 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.[4] The history of citizenship has sometimes been presented as a stark contrast between ancient citizenship and post-medieval times.[2] One view is that citizenship should be studied as a long and direct progression throughout Western civilization, beginning from Ancient Greece or perhaps earlier, extending to the present; for example, thinker Feliks Gross examined citizenship as the “history of the continuation of a single institution.”[7] Other views question whether citizenship can be examined as a linear process, growing over time, usually for the better, and see the linear progression approach as an oversimplification possibly leading to incorrect conclusions.[5] According to this view, citizenship should not be considered as a “progressive realisation of the core meanings that are definitionally built into citizenship.”[5] Another caveat, offered by some thinkers, is to avoid judging citizenship from one era in terms of the standards of another era; according to this view, citizenship should be understood by examining it within the context of a city-state or nation,[7] and trying to understand it as people from these societies understood it. The rise of citizenship has been studied as an aspect of the development of law.

. . . History of citizenship . . .

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. . . History of citizenship . . .

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