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What Is Citizenship?

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“The Rest” in the West

As a third way of thinking citizenship in relation to globalisation, migration and politics of identity, the points of view of the British sociologist Stuart Hall might be of interest. In his article “The Question of Cultural Identity (1992) he states that national identities remain strong concerning legal and citizenship rights (ibid: 302). On the other hand his analysis of the impact on European nation-states of cultural globalisation and migration might help us specify some central challenges concerning the relationship between cultural diversity and active citizenship.

Halls wants to point out that there are three different consequences of cultural globalisation. Most people´s social life is becoming part of the global inter-change of commercial, standardised consumer-goods. To a great extent, distinct cultural traditions and identities are cut loose, or disembedded from local or national communities, now being part of the “global supermarket” or the commercial “global village” of cultural homogenisation. However. the success of the marketing of western ways of life and consumer-culture has resulted in the fact that people are emigrating to the west. The purpose of marketing the western way of life was to incorporate the rest of the world into a homogenous consumer culture, dominated by western economies.
Paradoxically, this strategy has led to the result that western nation-states are being culturally heterogeneous because the “rest” have become a internal part of the west through global movements of migration. In other words, what was considered to be the cultural periphery of western culture is now becoming a part of the west: The “Rest” is in the “West”. The attempts to centralise the global inter-change of culture around a western hegemony has resulted in the fact that the West is being culturally decentralised. Cultural diversity or difference are becoming more pressing feature of Western nation-states than ever before. There are several important consequences of this which point in the opposite direction of cultural homogenisation of globalisation. First:
”The formation of ethnic-minority ”enclaves” within the nation-states of the West has led to a ”pluralization” of national cultures and national identities (…) The first effect has been to contest the settled contours of national identity, and to expose its closure to pressures of difference, ”otherness” and cultural diversity. This is happening, to different degrees, in all the Western national cultures and as a consequence it has brought the whole issue of national identity and cultural ”centredness” of the West into the open” (ibid:307).
If we accept that the creation of identities is a central feature of citizenship and the feeling of belonging to a community Hall points to other consequences of the cultural decentering of the West. On the one hand, attempts are made to strengthen the markers of local, ethnic, national, cultural and religious identities. People are engaged in the activity of making the boundaries of identity and community with an homogenous or monocultural essence. On the other hand, Hall says, new hybrid identities are in a process of being created that have other central features.
”Everywhere, cultural identities are emerging which are not fixed, but poised, in transition between different positions; which draw on different cultural traditions at the same time; and which are the product of those complicated cross-overs and cultural mixes which are increasingly common in a globalised world” (ibid:310).

Hall is of the opinion that politics of identity below the level of the national community is becoming a still more central feature of western politics because of migration and cultural globalisation. The dynamic of this is what Hall calls “the new social movement” i.e. identity politics of race, ethnicity, religious communities, women, sexual minorities etc. The origin of these movements is to be found in the 1960s in the USA, for instance in the political feminist and anti segregation movements. What these groups had in common was that they felt marginalized from the established political culture. In order to be accepted they reclaimed the identities that were stigmatised in society in general. In order to do so they valorised the stigmatised pole of oppositions of black/white, man/female, heterosexual/homosexual etc. In this way difference became as important as commonality.

The possibility for modern citizens to create stable and firm identities including a well-defined feeling of content has been put under pressure by cultural globalisation and cultural differences within national cultures, more or less in the shape of territorially concentrated cultural minorities. ”Politics of difference” makes it still more difficult to decide which community should be the locus of citizenship and democratic community. In Halls view “difference is the joker in the citizenship pack”. If it has to be pointed out where to find the most important issues concerning active citizenship, and the most progressive potential in modern politics too, Stuart Hall would point to the impact of the new social movements at the level below the nation-state.

Models of European Citizenship
This way of thinking citizenship rights and identities at different political levels, exemplified above, is an important feature in the present European context. To decide whether the future political anchoring of citizenship is be thought and practised within the framework of the nation-state, or within a supra-national political order, or rather at a sub-nation-state level, is one of the key issues of European politics. The three levels are neither easy to accommodate to each other, nor are they necessarily mutually exclusive. But both in respect of separating or uniting these three levels, it constitutes one of the key challenges of European democracy within the framework of the EU.
One approach to the EU is that it is best constructed according to the existing nation-state model. The nation-state provides the most stable and viable democratic structures and institutions of Europe. The autonomy and sovereignty of a nation-state are to be maintained in order to ensure the popular legitimacy of democratic institutions and traditions, and should therefore be at the centre of the future political development of the EU. It may be added that the nation-state is also considered to be the best platform for meeting the challenges of globalisation. If the EU is to be reformed, or if competencies and power are to be relegated to EU-institutions, it should be done in order to strengthen the nation-states and should rely on the legitimacy of decision-making on a national level. This approach is often called the con-federal model of the EU, and so far constitutes a hegemonic feature of EU-politics.
A second approach, called federalism, argues that the democratic deficit and missing legitimacy of the EU should be met by creating new representative institutions at EU level. The centre of European democracy should be a EU-legislature and government. In this model the diffusion of political power and autonomy is turned around, compared to the confederate model, in that it goes from the EU to the national level. Seen from a federalist point of view the present EU is constituted as an “in-between” arrangement, at the same time consisting of a national claim of Westphalian sovereignty, and the federal-like legal jurisdiction in the shape of the European Commission. According to the federal thinking this unresolved “in-between situation” is likely to undermine the legitimacy and authority of the EU. It is necessary to create a new pan-European constitution for a European federal state and assembly
It is interesting to note that citizenship has become part of the EU. “Citizenship of the European Union”, being part of the Maastricht Treaty, and coming into force on November 1st 1993, and it might be considered as a re-framing of the concept of citizenship, a move from a national to a post- or supra-national form of citizenship. If this is the case, one might claim that federal aspirations are becoming a reality, and that we are witnessing a process of a radical change in the European citizenship. Seen from a federal point of view Citizenship of the European Union may be regarded as an important stepping-stone for the advancement of a supra-national citizenship, in that it replaces the criterion of nationality with an objective criterion of residence. However, it is important to note, as Marco Martinello (1994) does, that the citizenship of the European Union is an ambiguous phenomenon.
“The granting of these political rights (the rights to vote and be elected in the local elections and the elections of the European parliament in the member´s state of residence, my comment) is sometimes presented as a critical step towards the defeat of the nation-state, in the sense that it apparently dissociates the possession of nationality, that is the belonging to a nation on the one hand, and the possession and exercise of citizenship – understood as a set of rights and duties linked to the state - on the other. In my view this is not the case. The concept of citizenship of the European Union introduced in Maastricht, is still largely derived from the national concept of citizenship. As a matter of fact, it does not create any new juridical and political subject. The main condition to be recognised as a citizen of the Union is to be a citizen of one of the member states, that is a national one of the member states (…) Citizenship of the European Union does not break the association between citizenship and nationality but renews it in a slightly different way (ibid: 34-35).

In other words, a precondition for obtaining the status of European citizenship is that it is directly related to nationality, in that one can be a citizen of the European Union only if one is Danish, Finnish, French etc. In this way the conflict between confederates and pan-European federalism is immanent in the concept of European citizenship, which can be seen as the highest denominator of political consensus among the EU-elites. What has been constructed is a two-level model in which supra-national rights are depending on national belonging (Castles & Davidson, 2000: 98). In this way the historical role of national cultural identities in securing political cohesion is confirmed. It is in this perspective that Martinello states that the main purpose of the introduction of European citizenship is not to renew an inclusive and democratised notion of citizenship. Rather it is linked to the process of creating a European cultural identity from above. Citizenship of the European Union is inscribed in a process of a “culturalization” process of Europe.

According to Martinello, this is being done according to two options (Martinello, 1994: 38-39). The first option is “traditional”, which is based on the myths of the Judeo-Christian and humanist heritage, based on a “European spirit”. The second is “the constructivist option” based on the programme of constructing “a common European space” as a result of a conscious political action in fields like plurilingualism, education and universities, communication etc. Martinello argues that one aim of constructing this European cultural identity and space is connected to the construction and exclusion of “the other”, i.e. immigrants from Islamic cultures and cultural minorities which might challenge the myth of European homogeneity, and which might formulate alternative notions of “europeanness” from below.
A third approach could be called “a Europe of regions”. In this model sub-state and regional communities, in the shape of for instance Catalonia, Lombardy, Baden-Würdenberg, the Øresund-region of Denmark and Sweden and central institutions of the EU form the axis of European politics. By relegating power and autonomy to the regions it is argued that the state-centralising effect of the two other approaches could be avoided, and the EU be democratised in the name of “diversity in unity”. In opposition to supporters of the nation-state model several ethno-national, regional movements in Europe, for instance in Spain (Catalonia and the Basque-country), in the UK (Scotland, Wales and West-Midland), Italy (Lega Nord, Lombardy), Belgium (the Flemish-region) consider that the strengthening of the EU may go hand in hand with the decentralising effect of a regionalised political space in Europe. In this way it can be ensured that political participation is anchored in the ethno-cultural communities which most people identify themselves with and feel that they are belonging to. In this model the strengthening of local or sub-state ethno-cultural identities and the expanding EU integration are regarded as complementary features, in order to weaken the political power and cultural hegemony of the centralised nation-states. With the future integration of several national and ethnic minorities within Eastern Europe into the EU, this model might become a still more pressing feature of the EU.
To these three models could be added a fourth one which is often called the cosmopolitan model. In this model the effort to lay down the future European politics upon either of the three levels is given up. To continue the struggle between confederate, federal or regional models is like offering a never ending and in a democratic perspective unfruitful process. The consequences of globalisation processes are precisely that they are eroding the effort to define citizenship and the politics of the feeling of belonging within territorial boundaries or state institutions. The different spheres of politics, including nation-state, pan Eoropean federalism, regionalism and non-territorial politics of old and new social movements, are intermingling and interrelated to such an extent that they are mutually supporting the existence of each other, though not in any harmonious and non-conflicting sense of the term. In the cosmopolitan model there is no privileged territorial unit from where sovereignty and autonomy can be relegated, and there is no primary source of popular legitimacy. In this model the post-Westphalian Order of the day forms the basis of the political agenda of Europe.
“Once it is conceded that societies require a range of democratic channels to exercise democratic rights effectively, supra-national, transnational, and sub-state aspects of political authority can be understood to extend rather than delimit popular empowerment. To strengthen institutions at one “level” does not imply weakened institutions at other levels; on the contrary, the overall “quantity” of democracy rises as democratic accountability increases across the various levels. In a transnational context, non-state democratic institutions complement state democracy rather than undermine it, and have a positive-sum rather than a zero-sum effect” (Goodman, 1997. 183).
Is an open question which of these models is able to become a hegemonic feature of the future European development. So far we can only conclude that Europe is constituted as a relatively open field of political dispute in which a complex set of actors, individuals as well as collectivities, are struggling for power.


Education for Active Citizenship and Multiculturalism
In the following I would like to explore how to imagine an education for active citizenship according to some of the challenges and conflicts outlined in part one and two. Before I try to do so, I would like to underline what I consider to be fundamental to such a task. In other words, I would like to outline the unavoidable premises for formulating education for active citizenship. Premises that are derived from the above description of citizenship and the challenges and conflicts that are connected to this phenomenon.
My research has shown that citizenship is an essentially contested concept with no fixed meaning or definition. The meaning and content of the concept takes form according to the political and cultural contexts in which it is inscribed. The political and cultural challenges and conflicts that intrinsically are connected to citizenship are historically constituted. The most important challenges and conflicts at the beginning of the 21st century are not the same as for instance in the aftermath of the Second World War, when T.H. Marshall published his article “Citizenship and Social Class”, although some overlapping is obvious.
If active citizenship is to be meaningful in educational thinking and practice the historical context has to be clarified. Above I have outlined that citizenship involves two central aspects: Formal rights and duties on the one hand, and a more informal aspect that concerns the belonging to a community on the other. Citizenship, in my view, seems meaningless if it is not clarified which community should guarantee the institutionalisation of rights and duties, and which community the citizens are intended to belong to. Of course, citizenship rights involve a universal element, for instance global human rights, which in principle are not restricted to specific individuals, groups, or communities. But individuals, groups, and communities do not exist in a world without boundaries. In other words, citizenship involves political and cultural actives that seek to specify these boundaries, or rather who are thought to be members of a given community and who are not? Who can or shall be given the status of citizenship, which rights should be given to whom?
If citizenship is thought of as a political, social, cultural, and educational practice of a given community, citizenship is intrinsically linked to the activity of a boundary-construction which helps to determine who are included in the community, and who should be excluded. There is no citizenship without the practice of inclusion and exclusion. But the practice of inclusion and exclusion puts some complicated questions as they are not “natural” or God-given phenomena, but political issues: Who is in the position to determine the criteria of inclusion/exclusion, and who has the power to settle the boundaries of a community? Further intricate problems are a result of this question. In a democracy inclusion/exclusion criteria are somehow to be based upon “the rule of the people” to obtain political legitimacy. Therefore, more or less rationally, deliberately, and willingly “the people” have to accept and express loyalty to community decisions. In order to do so it has to be ensured that the collective identities of members of the community are established and kept alive. If this is not ensured citizenship is in danger of falling apart in a democracy. In other words, citizenship as the practice of inclusion and exclusion is bound to the politics of identity and this is intrinsically linked to the power-relations of society.
Processes of globalisation, among many things, and movements of migration are challenging the ways in which membership of and loyalty to a community should be settled. Political and cultural development above and below the nation-state raises some questions concerning the status and power of national communities being the central locus for citizenship. Citizenship in a European democratic context is faced with two key challenges that are of central importance for the ways in which education for citizenship could be imagined and realised in the future:

  • Is Europe, with the EU as the central dynamic, facing a post-national development, or is the European integration rather a process of fortifying the nation-states?

  • How is citizenship to be thought in a situation of expanding globalisation and cultural diversity both within the EU and within the nation-state?

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