Citizenship: How do conceptions of citizenship vary between nation states? Essay

1. Citizenship: How do conceptions of citizenship vary between nation states? How does globalisation impact on these conceptions?

The very idea of citizenship is a contested concept in contemporary political thought. Marshall states that the ideas of citizenship developed throughout history. The role developed from s recognition of a rule of law in the 17th century, through the emancipation of the populace to the gaining of rights to social welfare in the 20th century (1987 p20).

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Concepts of Citizenship vary between countries with different models giving greater insight into the role of citizenship in some countries more than others. One model is the Ethnic model, in this ethnicity is central to determining who is a citizen of the country (Hague et al 1998 p67). There are strong ties to culture and kinship when identifying oneself as a citizen this model however does limit the social rights of those who do not share the same ethnic or cultural background, this can be seen by the small role that the people of Turkish decent play in German politics, which would be a country to which this exclusionary model applies (Hague et al 1998 p67).

Another model of citizenship is the Multi-cultural model. In the countries that identify with this model there are many different forms of culture that form the basis of national identification (Roche 1992 p239). In states such as Australia this form of cultural pluralism can be seen in the mix of the cultures of Europe, Asia and its indigenous population.

The other major form of citizenship can be shown in the Civic model. This model can be seen in more inclusive states such as France in which participation in society and conformity with the main cultural trends are the key aspects of citizenship (Roche 1992 p220).

The process of Globalisation in citizenship is seen as a move to a post-national form of identification (Roche 1992 p191). Within Europe this has brought about a form of trans national identity with people belonging to both their state of birth and a wider Europe wide form of state (1992 p195). There is, world wide, also a growing acceptance of dual nationality and more of an acceptance of multi-national bodies such as the UN (ibid). Overall the process of globalisation has seen a lessening in importance of national boundaries thus people feel more comfortable with being members of more than one form of state, there does however remain a strong cultural identity with the citizens of your home state.

Word Count: 398

Hague, R (1998) ‘Politics and Society’ in Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction Hague, R. Harrop, M. Breslin, S. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp59-131

Kamrava, M. (1996) Understanding Comparative Politics Routledge: London

Marshall, T H (1987) Citizenship and Social Development Pluto Press: London

Roche, M (1992) Rethinking Citizenship Polity: Cambridge

2. Elections: Account for the declining level of voter turn out in national elections in established liberal democracies. What are the implications of declining voter turnout?

In most liberal democracies there is a trend of turnout lowering in national elections. Galbraith states that this is because people are becoming content with life and politics now comes down to who best manage markets, which does seems more removed from people than tradition politics therefore there is less motivation to actually vote (1977 pp87-92).

In Britain as in other countries in the world the political parties have moved more towards the centre of the political spectrum. This is mostly in response to the electorate identifying less with the traditional positions of the political parties and there is less party allegiance (Dunleavy 2000 p130). This movement of parties towards a central ground may have lead to a decline in interest in politics as there seems to be a decline in the rivalry between the parties this lack of interest would have lead to a decline in election turnout.

Another factor that lowers the turnout in elections could be the idea of voter fatigue. It is here that the electorate become bored of elections if they are held very regularly, this trend can be seen in Switzerland and the USA which regularly have elections, in both these countries the turnout is on average below 65% and in the last two presidential elections in the USA the turnout has been below 50% (Hague 1998 p100).

The decline of participation in elections has many implications. One of the major ones is that if turnout drops those elected in do not seem to be legitimately in the position. This is particularly apparent in the USA where the turnout in the last two presidential elections has been below 50% indicating that the winning candidate could not even rely on being put in power by more than around 30% of the people in the country (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3920,00.html).

Another problem is that people will become less involved in the political process leading to a decline in the level to which you identify with the people in your society making you feel alienated which in turn had negative effects on your views of citizenship (Roche 1992 p57). Overall it is in the best interest of all of society to maintain a high level of political participation in order to see that groups do not become alienated from the political process as this may lead to people feeling less affinity to society.

Dunleavy, P (2000) ‘Elections and Party Politics’ in Developments in British Politics Dunleavy, P. Gamble, A. Holliday, I. Peele, G. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp127-150

Galbraith J.K (1977) The Affluent Society Lowe & Brydone: Thetford

Hague, R (1998) ‘Politics and Society’ in Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction Hague, R. Harrop, M. Breslin, S. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp59-131

Kamrava, M. (1996) Understanding Comparative Politics Routledge: London

The Guardian (1999) The Great Let Down. Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3920,00.html

3. Assemblies: What are the functions of assemblies? To what extent is it becoming more difficult for them to fulfil these functions?

Harrop describes an assembly as “a multimember representative body which considers public issues” (Hague et al 1998 p184) and it is here that assent can be given to policy. The main functions of assemblies are legislation, representation, scrutiny, political recruitment and to encourage political participation (Heywood 1997 p297).

The scrutiny of the political process can be seen in the USA where the assemblies are more pro-active (Hague 1998 p194), this can be shown by the way in which the investigation into the Watergate scandal was conducted.

The role of assemblies in political recruitment is to encourage people to become more active in politics and act a ct as a form of training ground for future political leaders (Cowley 2000 p122).

The things that prevent an assembly from fulfilling its roles are numerous. The actual organisation of the assembly could leave it weak and unable to fulfil its functions properly (Heywood 1997 p299). This can be seen in the British system where members of assemblies can ‘Filibuster’ a bill where by the talk for a large amount of time with no real purpose in order to waste the time of the bill. This shows that there is little that can be done to prevent the assembly from becoming wasteful. The organisation of assemblies does mean that it can have problems fulfilling its functions to the full extent, but in a democracy the nature of confrontational politics means that these forms of political games will happen and will find ways around even the strictest guidelines.

The scrutinising done by the assembly has also become less important as now the media is playing a much larger role in finding cracks in political actors (Cowley 2000 p113). This would show that the media is preventing the assembly from carrying out its function. However, the assembly can carry out the scrutiny at the same time as the media, in a more detailed way and without the bias that many in the media have to wards specific parties or ideologies.

Cowley 2000 (2000) ‘Legislature and Assemblies’ in Developments in British Politics Dunleavy, P. Gamble, A. Holliday, I. Peele, G. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp108-127

Dunleavy, P (2000) ‘Elections and Party Politics’ in Developments in British Politics Dunleavy, P. Gamble, A. Holliday, I. Peele, G. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp127-150

Galbraith J.K (1977) The Affluent Society Lowe & Brydone: Thetford

Hague, R (1998) ‘Government’ in Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction Hague, R. Harrop, M. Breslin, S. (eds) Macmillan: Basingstoke pp151-255

Heywood, A. (1997) Politics Palgrave: Basingstoke

Kamrava, M. (1996) Understanding Comparative Politics Routledge: London