Citizenhood: Rethinking Multicultural Citizenship


In its comprehensive meaning, citizenship should ideally bestow a sense of belonging in the large social group, as well as a stake in the state's cultural, political and economic life, topped by a sense of solidarity, which transcends ethno-religious differences. Unfortunately, many nation states fail these tasks and not all of their citizens are offered such an embracing welcome. Because of the massive immigrations of the last decades this difficulty has intensified and many states struggle with the problem of maintaining a sense of belonging of its citizens with the state. This article proposes a named new concept, “Citizenhood”, which may provide a better way to reconcile ideas of cultural and social rights with the idea of citizenship in contemporary multicultural liberal and democratic nation states. In particular, the new concept strives to alleviate the situation of groups upon whom citizenship does not confer the sense of 'being at home'. Improving the feelings of these groups is important not only for their own well-being, but for the state as well, since their feeling of alienation from the community at large weakens social cohesion and may fuel continuous tensions. Scholars have suggested different alternatives to overcome these difficulties but a solution is not yet in sight. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of previous suggestions and elaborates on the benefits of the proposed new concept.

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