Citizenship in the 21st century

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The Traditional Definition of Citizenship

The traditional definition of citizenship that has stretched to the current world, and which will probably also hold in the future is that it is a term describing the condition of an individual as legally belonging to a nation or sovereign state. The status can either be recognized through laws or customs of the countries in question, and one can have multiple citizenships depending on the rules of a specific jurisdiction. The citizenship concept is integrated with the relationship present between the people, and a formal institution, for instance a sovereign state. More often, the term is associated with geography, both in under-inclusive and over-inclusive forms. The idea is that people can be disposed from their original land, and end up not recognized or included as citizens of a state. Other incidences are those of immigrants who are forced to live in a country outside of their own, where they have no choice but to claim the latter as their nation-state. Therefore, the definition of citizenship has acquired flexibility over the years, with most people considering themselves as citizens of other countries other than those they are legally members of (Oyedemi 2015). This paper will discuss the notion of citizenship as an outdated concept in the 21st century, with the focus being Australia and other countries outside the former.

The Changing Perception of Citizenship

The 21st century is endowed with a different way of doing things, which entails noticeable differences in governance across nations, and advancement of technology, which has changed the perception of masses about many things (Livingstone and Third 2017). The 21st century has also carried with it a generation of people who prefer flexibility of the rules, hence ignoring the rigidity that comes with laws and regulations that govern all aspects of the world including the operations of laws and customs of sovereign states. The question of citizenship and the way the concept has revolutionized over the years comes into play when one takes into account the view the current generation has of the same.

An Outdated Version of Citizenship

The change in perception about the term has changed how citizenship is handled, making the concept an outdated version of its traditional self. In the past years, the circumstances under which one would be considered a citizen of a nation were clearly defined, and no state dared to bend the rules. However, the current situation is that such lines have been blurred, and the conditions under which people consider themselves part of a particular sovereign state in regards to citizenship are non-defined. An example would be the case of temporary workers who reside in Germany, majority of whom were born in the country (Andriof and McIntosh 2017). However, they have still not acquired the citizenship as per the legal papers, hence are still viewed as non-citizens. Such an occurrence would be absent in the past, before the onset of the 21st century where people could acquire citizenship by birth. Therefore, the situation as at now is that irrelevance prevails in regards to the question of citizenship. The same case is present in India, where a minority of religious individuals have lived in the state for hundreds of years, and even referred to it as home, but since they are functionally not citizens, the title of citizenship is scraped from them.

The Importance of Citizenship

Citizenship is an aspiration since with it, comes freedom of movement and a sense of belonging. It is no doubt that sovereign states owe members who have lived for specific number of years a place of belonging in the name of citizenship (Walter 2014). They owe the same to people born in the nations since the latter is technically their home, and awarding them with belonging and membership allows them access to all other withheld rights. The denial of citizenship is equal to the denial of complete personhood.

The Decline of Citizenship in the 21st Century

The 21st century idea of citizenship is obsolete because unlike in the past where governments upheld the responsibility of protecting their people from threats transcending in any borders of the country, the current situation is that some of the states are threats themselves. An example of such a case is Syria where the country ordered the killing of innocent people, most of who were not involved in the civil war happening at the time. The citizens were denied their right to life, while the surviving one that moved to other countries as refugees lost their property. Therefore, the 21st century paints a picture of a diluted form of citizenship where people do not enjoy the rights and privileges of belonging to specific states, nor are they accorded the citizenship status using the pre-set conditions that have been functional for many years before the onset of the century.

The Outdated Functionality of Citizenship

Citizenship in the 21st century means that its functionality is outdated and has failed in meeting the standards of the current times in all the three critical dimensions, which are political, social, and legal (Garton 2015). In legal terms, the concept of citizenship of nations is currently applying obsoletely since it is exclusive and rigid. The fact that the state or municipal authorities of countries grant the citizenship status to only a few people that meet a set list of requirements eliminates its ability to be flexible, hence rendering it outdated. The idea is that deserving individuals can be denied citizenship status merely because they fail to meet the arbitrary criteria which is pre-determined and implemented on all individuals.

In regards to the social dimension, the same has failed in its inclusivity and functionality. The citizenship status is currently designed to include a select few while excluding many other people. The idea, especially in Australia where the issue of population increase is closely monitored, and the quality of the available population kept at a high level, matters of citizenship are imposed by the dominant minority, who allow a few people based on their social status (Peucker et al. 2014). Even if a particular group is residing in the same area, and within the same amount of time, a division is created between those that are not eligible for citizenship and those that are granted the citizenship status. Within the same space, there are those individuals that enjoy rights, while there are those that have duties to attend to. The same case applies to two different groups made up of people that are policed and those that are entitled.

By politics, the issue of citizenship is also affected in that even if some citizens have participated in some form of nation building, and succeeded in making some progress, it is rare to find states awarding the people. The situation has worsened up to where governments rarely involve the citizens in concrete activities such as participatory budgeting. The same are also denied the chance to participate in active platforms, which beats the purpose of the notion of citizenship in the 21st century (Torpey 2018). The idea citizenship should be one that is all inclusive, in that the members are allowed to be active in all dimensions, for example, in the political arena, citizens should be allowed the chance to directly influence the formulation of laws and control of available resources.

The Limited Recognition of Fundamental Rights

The citizenship of the 21st century ignores the recognition of fundamental rights of the members as a core component of life. The outcome is that the people living in various nations lack the ability to dictate the dynamics and shape of space within which they prefer to spend their lives in. The social obligations of a citizen living in the 21st century are not visualized and do not exist beyond the borders of the host nation. The situation is that citizens cannot enjoy the privilege of bearing their share of responsibility in global matters since they remain unconnected to the global arena and their social obligations do not stretch beyond their domestic borders.

What the only interaction citizens of the 21st century have with their governments is their participation in the polls after five years or so. After the exercise is done, the governments go against their promises and responsibilities for its citizens, which beat the purpose of citizenship since it comes out as a useless title where there is no sense of protection from the state (Crane and Matten 2016). The fact that the current citizens of nations have been reduced to mere consumers of public utilities is mediocrity on their part. A characteristic that is famous in the 21st century that has blurred the traditional and original aim of citizenship. The situation is felt even in a superpower nation like the United States, where being a citizen of the land carries with it expectations that the government has one one's back in all aspects. However, the situation in the 21st century has portrayed a different picture (Lister and Campling 2017). The benefits of citizenship such as transportation provided by the government complete with armed escorts, and getting rescued from natural disasters and political turmoil have become as good as a script off a Hollywood film. The services which the citizens receive have a considerably large deviation from the expectations of the citizens.

An Outdated Concept

In conclusion, the notion of citizenship in the 21st century is outdated both in Australia and internationally (Miller 2016). The rights and responsibilities of citizens are trodden on, hence beating the logic of the term citizenship, which should exhibit inclusivity and accountability. The circumstances under which people acquire the status of citizenship are determined by social and political factors, which are more often than not biased. The legal aspects of citizenship have been overtaken by time, and the requirements remain to be rigid and non-practical.


Andriof, J. and McIntosh, M., 2017. Corporate citizenship: rethinking business beyond corporate social responsibility. In Perspectives on Corporate Citizenship (pp. 53-65). Routledge.

Crane, A. and Matten, D., 2016. Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.

Garton, S., 2015. Demobilization and Empire: Empire Nationalism and Soldier Citizenship in Australia After the First World War–In Dominion Context. Journal of Contemporary History, 50(1), pp.124-143.

Lister, R. and Campling, J., 2017. Citizenship: feminist perspectives. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Livingstone, S. and Third, A., 2017. Children and young people’s rights in the digital age: An emerging agenda.

Miller78, D., 2016. Citizenship and national identity. Democracy: A Reader, p.447.

Oyedemi, T., 2015. Internet access as citizen's right? Citizenship in the digital age. Citizenship Studies, 19(3-4), pp.450-464.

Peucker, M., Roose, J.M. and Akbarzadeh, S., 2014. Muslim active citizenship in Australia: Socioeconomic challenges and the emergence of a Muslim elite. Australian Journal of Political Science, 49(2), pp.282-299.

Torpey, J.C., 2018. The invention of the passport: surveillance, citizenship and the state. Cambridge University Press.

Walter, M., 2014. Indigeneity and citizenship in Australia. Australian Journal of Political Science, 65(6), pp.82-299.

August 14, 2023

Corporations Economy

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