chapter  5
23 Pages

States and citizens

The idea of citizenship as a key element in the structure of modern states was raised briefly in Chapter 1. There we saw that the invocation of the citizen as the constituting subject-object of state activity could be seen as one of the defining aspects of modernity and the idea of citizenship has been especially important for those who have sought to establish a normative defence of the state (i.e. for those who have tried to justify the nature of modern state institutions). A number of commentators (Turner, 1990; Oldfield, 1990; Lister, 1993; Kymlicka and Norman, 1994; Stewart, 1995; Lister, 2003; Bellamy, 2008) have also observed that, with the waning of some of the defining ideologies of the modern age (above all, those built around state-administered forms of socialism), the idea of citizenship is taking on a renewed lease of life. Of course, the idea of citizenship is not new. The Greeks certainly had a word for it and, in his historical survey of the citizenship idea, Heater identifies ‘five distinct contexts’ in which citizenship has been developed over the past two and a half millennia: ‘the Greek city-state, the Roman Republic and Empire, the medieval and Renaissance city, the nationstate and the idea of the cosmopolis’ (Heater, 1990:161). While citizenship has been an important principle in each of these contexts, our attention here will be focused upon the fourth category: citizenship as a constituting principle of the modern nation-state.