Differing Notions of Citizenship

In Chapter 5 of Pierson, the notion of 'citizenship as membership' suggests that citizens are granted a prestigious position as members of the state upon birth. There is a strong link with territory and citizenship and an importance placed on the concept of nationality (Pierson 128). To be lucky enough to receive this 'membership' in the 'country club' of the state gives one special status and privileges while it precludes others from the same luxuries.

This rather simple analogy is effective in outlining the benefits of being born a member of a prosperous state. It also emphasizes the inclusive/exclusive aspects of citizenship as membership. As Pierson notes, "… it is overwhelmingly at [the nation-state] level that the privileging of citizenship and the practice of social closure against outsiders has been observed" (Pierson 130). 'Citizenship as status' is parallel with 'citizenship as membership' since it too reinforces the notion of nationalism.

However, status diverges from membership since it makes a claim to a less normative quality – the 'imagined community. ' The imagined community is what Pierson denotes as what it means to be of a certain nationality (Pierson 132). Where membership associates people (by territory) to a national identity, status seeks to make the relationship a little deeper, associating people to their culture and traditions and to what those things mean on a personal level.

Stevenson's conception of 'cultural citizenship' spans beyond the rather narrow concepts of either membership or status. He emphasizes the large-scale effects that media have played in reshaping what it means to be a citizen (of a nation-state and of the world). The rapid movement of people and information has challenged conventional modes of citizenship (i. e. membership and status). Massive migration within the last half century has resulted in city-centers around the globe that have become truly multicultural.

Citizenship is no longer a matter of legal recognition, but much more so a qualitative argument for inclusiveness, and abolition of social sentiments that favour nationals while marginalizing minority groups. In today's world with people of varying ethnicities dotted across the globe, the nationalist argument is contested by a new and powerful force – multiculturalism. Furthermore, this challenge is strengthened by the 'shrinking' aspects of modern media – today the world is a smaller place where domestic issues from other countries, societies, and cultures become easily accessible.

Although the concepts of membership and status citizenship seem to be outdated, Stevenson consistently makes reference to a single feature that is commonplace in all three forms of citizenship – nationalism. Stevenson views nationalism as an intrinsic part of any citizenship, and suggests that it should remain a significant aspect of cultural citizenship without precluding other features from being realized. He holds that, "… national identities themselves need to be constantly re-negotiated to admit a diverse range of identity constructs…

," while concluding that, "… domains of nation and state remain central if no longer determining" (Stevenson 73, 91). A feature that Parekh conceptualizes in the cultural framework includes, "… institutionally embedded multicultural practices rather than assimilation or mere tolerance" (Stevenson 72). It is evident that there is a fine line between granting too much to multicultural enhancement and risking national traditions, and reinforcing nationalism to the point where multicultural views are not given enough attention.

As Stevenson puts it: "… we should be careful to avoid a false universalism that simply gestures towards the equality of the globe's cultures and avoid a form of cosmopolitan optimism that assumes that national cultures do not remain important centers of power and identity" (Stevenson 73). Overall, the concept of cultural citizenship seeks to embody nationalism (as in the membership and status conceptions) while advocating pluralism in a global society that unites so many unique cultural qualities.

In relation to The Swedish Government's EU Policy Goals for 2002, three primary relationships can be conceived. The first resemblance is in the overall nature of both cultural citizenship and the EU Policy Document. The goals behind cultural citizenship are to foster a more cohesive international community by promoting the transcendence of citizenship through nationalistic barriers. Similarly, the Swedish Government's EU Policy Document is a broad attempt to better formulate the Swedish – EU relationship.

The most striking parallel between the two is the government document's goal to improve the Swedish Government – Swedish people relationship, and cultural citizenship's goal to cultivate a more effective government – citizen relationship. The policy document expresses this aim through the goal of creating, "enhanced legitimacy, democratic support and relevance to the Union's citizens" (Swedish Government 5). Stevenson notes, "As many recent commentators have noticed, along with the cultural fragmentation of Western democracies has come a growing decline in relations of trust between members of the political class and the people.

In this respect, I would argue, there will be renewed attempts through the construction of a shared national culture to breathe new life into this relationship" (Stevenson 72). The second relationship is that cultural citizenship's need to create a better and more pluralistic relationship between global citizens mirrors the EU Policy Document's goal of realizing a better social structure. Stevenson believes that there is a need to, "… press the importance of cultural pluralism over attempts to reinscribe dominant homogenous cultures" (Stevenson 62).

Through cultural citizenship, he believes that the heterogeneous nature of civil society should be realized, advocating the, "… maintenance of pluralistic public spheres at the level of the local, the national, and the global" (Stevenson 62). In the Swedish government's document goals pertaining to socially sustainable development, in the name of, "… more and better jobs and greater social cohesion," and a focus on gender equality (Swedish Government 6) express a similar sentiment to the pluralistic attributes of cultural citizenship.

Furthermore, the pluralistic conception of the EU Policy Document is conveyed in the section on 'The future direction of the EU must be subject to open and broad debate. ' Here, the document expresses the need for intergovernmental conferences to, "… be composed of representatives of Member State governments, national parliaments, the European Parliament and the Commission" (Swedish Government 11). The range of groups that the document prescribes to be involved in intergovernmental talks is in line with the pluralistic conception of cultural citizenship and the need for deliberation to find common, unified interests.

The final relationship is most clearly defined as a mutual goal of retaining national interests. As it has been made clear, cultural citizenship, although focused on pluralism, reserves the importance of nationalism. Likewise, the Swedish EU Policy Document, although centered on integration with European goals, also realizes the importance of retaining national interests, and safeguarding against the compromising of these interests. This is evident through the advocating of a need, "…for national reflection" (Swedish Government 11) before policies are put into motion through intergovernmental action.


Goldmann, Kjell, 2001. Transforming the European Nation-State. London: Sage Publications. Holden, Barry (ed. ), 2000. Global Democracy. London: Routledge. Pierson, Christopher, 1996. The Modern State. London: Routledge. Stevenson, Nick, 1999. The Transformation of the Media: Globalization, Morality, and Ethics. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited. Swedish Government, 2002. The Swedish Government's EU Policy Goals for 2002.