6.7.3.3 Citizenship

Three key criteria for distinguishing between citizens and denizens are the possession of a passport, the right to live and work wherever they choose, and the right to play a full part in the political system.

A person who holds a national passport cannot be deported, because their ‘home’ and their ‘nationality’ are defined by the passport they hold.  There might be nowhere to deport them to, if they were born in the country whose passport they hold.

Citizens normally have the right to live and work wherever they choose, often not requiring new residence permits and work permits when they move to another area (where such a system of permits applies).  This might give them an advantage over the denizens who were described previously (6.7.3.2).

For permanent residents, citizenship can be of economic and political value:

  • It might confer additional rights, including some government-funded public services (6.7.1.1) and benefits (6.7.1.3), which might not be available to denizens.
  • Through the political system it gives people the right to participate in negotiating on aspects of their governance. Citizens who expect to live in a place for a long time might have a strong interest in public services and infrastructure.

Clearly the benefits of citizenship vary enormously between different societies, and there are responsibilities which must be met if these benefits are to be realised in practice.  Citizens should participate actively in making their political choices (6.6.1.1).  Working together to create a better society helps to bind people together, forging a sense of national identity.

People can also take pride in citizenship.  Patriotism, defined as love of one’s country, is deemed to be a virtue by many people.  It is a contested concept because some people would argue that it requires unconditional support for whatever the country does, whereas others would argue that true patriotism would require one to criticise government actions if they are against the country’s best interests or contradict its stated values or Constitution.

Patriotism should not be confused with the aggressive form of nationalism discussed earlier (6.6.4.3).

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