The End of Citizenship? The Nation State, Threats to its Legitimacy, and Citizenship Education in the Twenty-first Century

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Abstract:

This paper argues that whilst citizenship as a concept has a long and venerable history, present-day conceptions are relatively new, being primarily constructs created two to three hundred years ago to bolster the status and influence of fledgling western nation states. They were generated to inculcate in disparate populations the belief that their primary allegiance should not be to their region and lord, but to a larger entity of disputed size and composition, the nation state. Yet because it is a political arrangement in time, and there are such variations in its practice, there is an increasing awareness of its nature as a construction which can be deconstructed. The present status of the concept of citizenship, then, depends at least in part on the perceived legitimacy of the nation state by those who inhabit its borders. Yet this paper will argue that not only is there a greater awareness of its artificiality, but there are also forces at large in the world today which constrain its powers and threaten its legitimacy. This paper thus asks whether the nation state will be able to call upon the loyalty of its inhabitants, and be the primary focus for a commitment to a form of citizenship in the future. Further questions are then posed as to what future forms of organisations would generate greater legitimacy and what forms of citizenship and citizenship education may come to prominence in the years ahead.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0305764032000064668

Affiliations: Centre for Educational Studies, University of Hull, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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