Social Sciences: The Big Issues

By Kath Woodward | Go to book overview
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Chapter 3


Who's in and who's out?


Citizenship is a big issue, especially at a time of extensive movement of peoples across the world and of social changes within countries. Contemporary interest in citizenship arises from a number of different factors. Social changes which are the result of European integration as well as migration, including the pressure of asylum seekers on welfare, health and education systems, have brought issues of citizenship to the fore. Migration is a major factor in population change. For example projections recorded in Social Trends data for the UK predict that net migration will exceed net natural changes (births and deaths) so that by 2011 net migration will account for 70 per cent of population change in the UK (Social Trends 2002). Changes to the welfare state, devolution and the social rights of nation states, the advances of technoscience, especially in relation to genetics and to reproductive technologies, addressed in Chapter 2, all challenge traditional ideas about who has citizenship status. Family structures and the nature of paid work and employment patterns have changed and sexual politics and the campaigns of identity politics - such as the women's movement and gay and lesbian rights, multicultural, ethnic minority, the disability and environmentalist movements - have led to demands for recognition of the rights to citizenship of those previously excluded. All this calls for a broader understanding of citizenship and even the requirement that UK schools teach the subject as part of the curriculum from 2002. Changing times have led to new political demands and the need for new theories of citizenship.

Citizenship is a category of inclusion and, by implication, exclusion. The category includes those identified as citizens and accords those people rights as well as placing some obligations upon them. This chapter explores what it means to be a citizen in changing times and, in particular, how theories of citizenship can cope with the changes that are transforming social and political life in the twenty-first century. Citizenship is associated with geographical location. As was argued in Chapter 2, your identity is often secured and established through an association with a place and, especially when it comes to accessing rights and benefits, to the place where you currently live. A permanent address might afford some security


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Social Sciences: The Big Issues


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