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Confucianism and the Idea of Citizenship

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Does Confucianism have anything to contribute to the idea and practice of citizenship? Many critics would argue that it does not, on the grounds that it is inhospitable to values such as individuality, individual rights, equality and democracy. However, these grounds have to be severely qualified. Furthermore, there is no single conception of citizenship, even though the liberal conception stands out as, probably, the most influential one. Recently in the debate on citizenship, many commentators have been highly critical of the liberal conception, precisely for its uncompromising emphasis on individuality and individual rights, which tends to produce a political practice that fails to bring about equality and democratic values. Confucianism has much to contribute to the critique of the liberal conception of citizenship, as well as to the construction of a more viable conception, one that has a better chance to cope with the effects of globalisation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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