Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution

Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution

Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution

Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution

Synopsis

Today, all industrialized states are multinational. However, as Political Sociologist Feliks Gross points out, there remains considerable debate and experimentation on how to organize a multiethnic, democratic, and humane state. In the past, minorities were usually formed as a consequence of conquest or migration; minorities tended to have an inferior status, subordinated to the ruling, dominant ethnic class. Only Rome and the United States provide examples of successful multiethnic states of continental dimensions. Gross examines various types of multiethnic states as well as their early origins and prospects for success.

Excerpt

The way states are built often determines their future. Constructing a new polity involves building a complex political organization. In the past those ways were often simple, brutal, and cruel. The social technique tells us not only how things were done and how they work, but also what kind of institutions and structures were needed to build a state.

Unlike those states that were based in violence and coercion, and initially organized through submission, other states existed where citizenship was a major institution, an ‘‘instrument’’ uniting in a common polity, a shared home, diverse nationalities and racial, religious and ethnic groups. It is and was a political and social instrument in construction of a modern, democratic and multiethnic state.

The term citizen involves diverse concepts or definitions, but this book concerns itself with the term in the sense of democratic citizenship. This citizenship extends human, political and civil rights to all inhabitants, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or culture. In a civic state, which is based on the concept of such citizenship, even foreigners are protected by the rule of law.

Citizenship reflects a major dilemma of democracy: it touches on the relationship between an individual and society, between an individual and the state, and, hence, between the collective and the individual. The history of the human struggle for freedom is reflected in this dialectical issue, in search for a workable and just balance between those two components of society.

The modern democratic state provides ample ways to achieve a proper

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