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What Does It Mean To Be A Citizen?

1923 words - 8 pages

1. What does it mean to be a citizen?The term "Citizen" is defined in the compact Macquarie Dictionary as, "a member, native or naturalised, of state or nation". This paper intends to question what it is that constitutes a member or citizen, of state or nation. Many concepts and theories are promoted by political theorists and practitioners alike that are varied and many in response to defining a "citizen". The expanse of these theories ranges from the all-encompassing endorsement of world citizenship where nation or state borders are invisible, to limited conditional nation based citizenship, which for example, may discriminate against a citizen's nationality in applying for government office positions.Whilst citizenship in a legal context can be defined objectively and focuses on the formal status of an individual in the community, such as permanent or temporary residency it is the social definition of citizenship that becomes varied. Diverse as the theories are regarding citizenship, as noted by Heywood there is a correlation amongst the theorists that citizenship is the relationship between the individual, state and society. It is this relationship and surrounding values that defines the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that becomes complex.It is the focus of this essay to present a critical perspective on the broader concepts of citizenship that explores ideas and theories concerning the social rights and responsibilities of citizenship and my support, and/or criticism of these theories in response to marginalisation, exclusion and inclusion within the community.As Australia has no bill of rights that outlines the identity of what the relationship is regarding the rights and responsibilities as a citizen, it is up to each individual to interpret the significance of citizenship. As an Australian born citizen my personal expectations include a broad variety of rights and responsibilities that are reciprocal between Australia and its citizens.My values align with those expressed by the Australian government regarding citizenship as a membership for the common good of all that includes a commitment to Australia and to the values and principles that underpin Australia's democracy and its public institutions. These principles include observing the rule of law, tolerance, equality of opportunity, Parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion, equality of the races and sexes and acceptance of the right of others to express their views and values. In response to this I expect the Australian government to commit to these principles by way of supportive legislation to enforce, such as federal and state anti-discrimination laws, adequate funding to initiate by way of budget, and community education of these principles that is available to all in creating an infrastructure of endorsement for these behaviors.In my opinion the fact that we have what I would argue as vague normative principles, being ideals, surrounding citizenship in a...

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