Citizenship Essay

953 words - 4 pages

Dooley 4Connor DooleyFirst Year Humanities (HU101A)Daniel J. Lavoie, Ph. D., FacilitatorDecember 12, 2013The Concept of CitizenshipA citizen is defined as a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of the country, or a person who lives in a particular place (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). There is more to a citizen than this simple definition given, but sadly in our world today, people that are citizens think nothing more of it than that simple description. In order to remind ourselves what it means to be a citizen, we must look to a time when people actually pondered the idea of what citizenship was.The first exact definition of citizenship is given by Aristotle in his Politics. This first political and philosophical definition of citizenship is based on a separation of "we and they," because it emphasizes the distinction between those individuals who are considered as members of the demos and those who are not.Aristotle regards a citizen as a righteous man, and he perceives citizenship as an instrument of virtue. He excludes workers, slaves, and women from the category of citizenship; because he argues that they are not governed by virtue (Politics, 1278a). On the other hand, Aristotle's idea of citizenship aims at constructing a common cultural ground. He excludes representatives from local religions and tribes from his understanding of citizenship. Consequently, Aristotle's idea of citizenship includes two oppositions, which sharply divide citizens from strangers, women, slaves and workers. He claims that this exclusion is rational.Aristotle promotes active citizenship and attempts to develop moral norms and a conceptual framework, which could produce the skills and wisdom necessary for political decision-making. He defines citizenship as participating in governments' decision-making (Politics, 1275b) and argues that his idea of citizenship can only be implemented within the democratic political order. Aristotle does not define citizenship by birth or territory; otherwise slaves could also be regarded as those who possess the status of citizenship. The modern liberal political idea of citizenship introduces citizens as passive subjects of rights. This conception of citizenship rejects Aristotle's idea of active citizenship.A United States citizen in today's world is defined as a person born in this country or a person who has gone through the full immigration process to become a citizen. In many cases, becoming a citizen in the United States means you renounce allegiance to other countries, though in certain cases, people can possess dual citizenship. However; first and foremost, the highest allegiance you have as a US citizen is to your country.The rights of a US citizen are defined by the Bill of Rights. The document states that anyone classed as a citizen has the right to practice any religion of their choosing, to freely assemble, and to speak...

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