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What Is Citizenship?

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In order to comply with these challenges, a first step might be to introduce the concept of “multiculturalism”. As a concept in the philosophy of education and political theory it is well known in the Anglo-American world. The concept also figures in many ways of thinking and implementing social policies in the US, Canada and Australia. However, as was the case with the concept of citizenship this fact does not mean that there is consensus about the meaning and implications of it. I propose to define multiculturalism as

”(…) politics of multiculturalism – the relations between groups and cultures – within a pluralistic, or ”liberal”, society, which involves struggles for equal recognition on behalf of minority cultures (Parekh, 1997:164). (…) multiculturalism is a normative doctrine advancing a specific view on how we should respond to cultural diversity, and entailing significant regulatory policy recommendations” (ibid: 169).

According to this definition, it is not determined in advance that multiculturalism deals with cultural, ethnic or religious minorities per se, or necessarily the relationships between these groups and a majority culture. Multiculturalism is understood as an inclusive concept, which in a broad sense deals with “the proper terms of relationship between cultural communities”. It has to be determined by the historical and political context in question which relations and which kinds of cultural diversity are in focus, and these are not fixed in advance. But in order to introduce it as part of the concept of citizenship education, some elementary premises must form the basis.
At first, multiculturalism exists in several different and conflicting versions. Multiculturalism is an essentially contested concept. Secondly, multiculturalism does not implicate that national communities are ignored or necessarily devalued. If multiculturalism is going to make any sense in the present historical situation of the European nation-states, it seems unrealistic not to incorporate a national perspective. Therefore, in the present situation the question is not if a national element has to be included, but rather in what specific version. Multiculturalism is meant to facilitate a multi-perspective approach that makes room for as many viewpoints as possible in the process of clarifying, which formal rights and duties, and which identities might keep a certain multicultural community together, or which might threaten to tear it apart.
In the following I shall state three possible ways of considering multiculturalism in the view of the premises in relation to citizenship education. The focus of the first two positions is primarily on the citizenship education at the primary schools However, I believe that the viewpoints could be used in a broader perspective of citizenship education. As the first example, I draw the attention to David Miller´s viewpoints (1995) that are especially focusing upon his attempt to place the democratic education of the school in his defence of the national community. As the second example, I shall use Yael Tamir, the political theorist, who makes room for multiculturalism in a liberal and partly European perspective. As the third position I draw the attention to the account of Bhikhu Parekh (1997, 2000). His position could be regarded as a hybrid between the three versions of multiculturalism seen from the point of view of a deliberative concept of democracy.
The outlining of these three positions could be regarded as a process of “thinning out” the role and importance of the national community and identity in the future education for active citizenship. A national element is incorporated in all of them, but based upon different premises as far as the concepts of democracy and politics of identity are concerned.

Education for Active citizenship: A Republican model
The British political theorist David Miller argues in his book “On Nationality” (1995) that “civic nationalism” and a republican concept of democracy should constitute the foundation of the future citizenship education. Michael Walzer has tried to capture the key element of a republican concept of democracy in this way,
”To live well is to be politically active, working with our fellow citizens, collectively determining our common destiny – not for the sake of this or that determination but for the work itself, in which our highest capacities as rational and moral agents find expression. We know ourselves best as persons who propose, debate and decide” (Walzer in Mouffe: 1992:91)
In a republican concept of democracy the citizens can form their personal and social identity only if they share traditions and common institutions, and through the obligation to participate in public discourse about “the common good” (Habermas, 1994: 345). According to Miller, these features of republican democracy and citizenship are best realised in a context of civic nationalism. Civic nationalism is understood as a form of nationalism that is rooted in modern political principles such as democracy and egalitarian citizenship. This form of nationalism is distinctively different from the forms of nationalism that are characterised by xenophobia, chauvinism and authoritarian politics. Miller thinks that historically this former version of nationalism is to be found particularly in modern centralised territorial nation-states of Europe and the US and Australia.
In order to cope with the challenges of globalisation and cultural diversity it is more important than ever that all citizens are bound together by a common national identity and public culture. If the political and cultural coherence of society and the social solidarity of active citizenship are to be maintained and strengthened, it is absolutely necessary that a common collective identity is developed. Miller is aware of the fact that this might be a difficult task, and that many citizens might not share the national culture and identity of the national community. Nevertheless, if active citizenship is to be concerned with creating social responsibility and mutual trust among the citizens in a globalised and multicultural society, this makes a powerful case for maintaining that the boundaries of nations and states should coincide as far as possible (ibid:98). In Miller´s view there is so far no realistic alternative to the national community of compatriots. An active citizenship requires that the citizens are bound together by “thicker” historical and cultural bonds than those offered by universalistic, abstract political principles, such as “human rights” or a cosmopolitan democracy. Miller does have much faith in anchoring citzenship within the frame of the Euorpean Union, in that a collective European cultural identity and feeling of belonging is too weak to mobilise an active citizenship, which is necessary to reproduce political coherence and social solidarity. In that respect Miller is thinking within the Westphalian Order of connected and sovereign nation-states, and within the confederate perspective of European integration.
”A shared identity carries with it a shared loyalty, and it increases confidence that others will reciprocate one’s own co-operative behaviour. So far this does not discriminate between various communities that a person may belong to. The importance of national communities here is simply that they are encompassing communities which aspire to draw in everyone who inhabits a particular territory (ibid:92) (…) Trust requires solidarity not merely within groups but across them, and this in turn depends upon a common identification of the kind that nationality alone can provide” (ibid: 140).
Cultural minorities are invited to contribute to the collective considerations concerning what should constitute a common national identity within the nation-state. The democratic citizenship education of the school is considered to be a key component of these considerations.
”The principle of nationality implies that schools should be seen, inter alia, as places where a common national identity is reproduced and children prepared for democratic citizenship. In the case of recently arrived ethnic minorities whose sense of their national identity may be insecure, schools can act as counterweight to the cultural environment of the family. It follows that schools should be public in character, places where members of different groups are thrown together and taught in common” (ibid:142).
In Miller´s view cultural minorities have to assimilate with the national community in order to obtain the status of full citizenship. If groups refuse to assimilate with a common national identity, arguing that this might threaten the internal cultural coherence of the group, two options are at hand. They can withdraw to an existence in internal exiles within the national community, so to speak outside the frame of citizenship. Or they can defend their rights of citizenship, parallel to a defence of their particular cultural identity, and perhaps even claim the right to get access to state resources. If the second option is chosen, Miller states as follows,
”But in the second case they must also recognise the obligations of membership, including the obligation to hand on a national identity to their children so that the latter can grow up to be loyal citizens” (ibid:145).
Miller is advocating “the French model” of active, republican citizenship, which could be outlined in this way:


Gender Religion

Class Europe

Ethnicity Race

Citizenship education = ”civic nationalism”

National identity

Loyalty towards the national community = assimilation

A liberal model
Yael Tamir, the political philosopher, agrees with Miller in her way of coping with cultural diversity (1995) in regard to the fact that historically constituted bonds of national identities are still important in many peoples lives. Civic nationalism is recommended as a way of coping with cultural diversity within the national communities. Like Miller, she recommends that cross-cultural relations are established and negotiated. But there are fundamental differences in their approach, too. Tamir thinks within a liberal concept of democracy, which Will Kymlicka, her co-liberal thinker, (1995) outlines it in the following way
”The defining feature of liberalism is that it ascribes certain fundamental freedoms to each individual. In particular, it grants people a very wide freedom of choice in terms of how they lead their lives. It allows people to choose a conception of the good life, and then allows them to reconsider that decision, and adopt a new and hopefully better plan of life” (Kymlicka, 1995:80).
In Tamir´s approach focus is on individual choices as regards the concept of belonging to a community. The second difference compared to Miller is that she incorporates and has greater trust in integrating a post-national European perspective in her thinking. Tamir gives up the idea that the nation-state as a political community should correspond to an integrated cultural community. What she recommends is that the political self-determination of the nation-states is replaced by the EU, which is meant to function as a superior political frame for maintaining and strengthening the cultural autonomy of both individuals and other national and cultural groups. The implication of this is that she thinks that citizenship should be understood as a political concept which in principle could be separated from cultural identities and the feeling of belonging. In Tamir´s view EU should take care of political matters such as military defence, economy etc. This ensures that groups are able to live autonomous lives as cultural entities, and this could especially ensure that the feeling of belonging culturally and their identities are based on the reflexive choices of individuals. In opposition to Miller, Tamir´s version of multiculturalism does not place the commitment of assimilating with a national majority culture in the forefront. Loyalty to the national community is loosened according to a liberal ethos of individualism
”(…) not only should individuals have the right to choose the national group they want to belong to, they should also have the right to define the meanings attached to this membership (…). (ibid:37)
The implications of Tamir´s way of thinking is a double-edged education, composed by two different but related dimensions. One consists of a “thin” layer of “civic education” in which the rationality of liberalism and the legal and formal rights of citizenship are introduced. This dimension of the “good citizenship” is directed towards the European level, as the EU is where the trans-national or cross-cultural political ties are established. The other dimension concerns the “thick” layer of the feeling of belonging culturally and having an identity, what Tamir calls “good nationhood”. The meaning of both dimensions of education is summarised in this way,
”The main goal of educating for citizenship is hence to allow future citizens to participate in political discussions concerning the nature of their society. This, though in a different manner, is also the prime goal of national education, which strives to prepare individuals to participate in the cultural life of their community. National education thus differs from the teaching of a foreign culture since it not only aims to impart knowledge but also to spur the motivation and ability for involvement in the national life of the community. Education is thus crucial to prepare individuals to take part in both realms of discourse – the civic and the national” (ibid:22).
Tamir is aware of the fact that the two dimensions may overlap. But if the challenge is both to cope with cultural diversity, and to recognize the value of national identities, a separation of the formal political state-level and the level of cultural particularism is necessary. Tamir wants to separate what David Miller wants to keep together. The EU and “good citizenship” are connected to the first level, the cultural autonomy of individuals and groups are related to the second level. Tamirs way of thinking can be comprised in the following model,



Gender Race Religion

Class Ethnicity

citizenship = political education

Education of a feeling of national/ cultural belonging

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