citizen, member of a state, native or naturalized, who owes allegiance to the government of the state and is entitled to certain rights. Citizens may be said to enjoy the most privileged form of nationality; they are at the furthest extreme from nonnational residents of a state (see alien), but they may also be distinguished from nationals with subject or servile status (e.g., slaves or serfs; see serf, slavery). (It should be noted, however, that in Great Britain and some other constitutional monarchies a citizen is called a subject.)

The term citizen originally designated the inhabitant of a town. In ancient Greece property owners in the city-states were citizens and, as such, might vote and were subject to taxation and military service. Citizenship in the Roman Empire was at first limited to the residents of the city of Rome and was then extended in AD 212 to all free inhabitants of the empire. Under feudalism in Europe the concept of national citizenship disappeared. In time, however, city dwellers purchased the immunity of their cities from feudal dues, thereby achieving a privileged position and a power in local government; these rights were akin to those of citizenship and supplied much of the content of later legislation respecting citizenship.

Modern concepts of national citizenship were first developed during the American and French revolutions. Today each country determines what class of persons are its citizens. In some countries citizenship is determined according to the jus sanguinis [Lat.,=law of blood], whereby a legitimate child takes its citizenship from its father and an illegitimate child from its mother. In some countries the jus soli [Lat.,=law of the soil] governs, and citizenship is determined by place of birth. These divergent systems may lead to conflicts that often result in dual nationality or loss of citizenship (statelessness).

Although the Constitution of the United States, as written in 1787, uses the word citizen and empowers Congress to enact uniform naturalization laws, the term was not defined until the adoption (1868) of the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave citizenship to former black slaves. As this amendment indicates, the United States generally follows the jus soli. However, Congress has also recognized, subject to strict rules, the principle of jus sanguinis so that children born of American parents abroad are citizens during their minority and can retain this citizenship at majority if they meet certain conditions. In addition, in 2000, Congress granted automatic citizenship to most minor children of American parents who were adopted from abroad; previously such adopted children needed to be naturalized. Until the 1940s the United States recognized several classes of nationals who were not citizens, e.g., Filipinos and Puerto Ricans. Today, however, all U.S. nationals are citizens. The United States recognizes the right of voluntary extradition, and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that citizenship can be lost only if freely and expressly renounced; Congress does not have the power to take it away.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Citizenship: Selected full-text books and articles

Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau
Peter Riesenberg.
University of North Carolina Press, 1992
A Theory of Citizenship: Organizing Plurality in Contemporary Democracies
Herman van Gunsteren.
Westview Press, 1998
Citizenship Rights and Social Movements: A Comparative and Statistical Analysis
Joe Foweraker; Todd Landman.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Civic Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism
Richard Johnson Dagger.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Civility and Citizenship in Liberal Democratic Societies
Edward C. Banfield.
Paragon House, 1992
The New Citizenship: Unconventional Politics, Activism, and Service
Craig A. Rimmerman.
Westview Press, 1997
The New Citizenship: A Study of American Politics
Seba Eldridge.
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1929
The Foundations of American Citizenship: Liberalism, the Constitution, and Civic Virtue
Richard C. Sinopoli.
Oxford University Press, 1992
World Citizenship and Mundialism: A Guide to the Building of a World Community
John C. de V. Roberts.
Praeger, 1999
Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution
Feliks Gross.
Greenwood Press, 1999
'European' Citizenship Practice: Building Institutions of a Non-State
Antje Wiener.
Westview Press, 1998
Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany
Rogers Brubaker.
Harvard University Press, 1992
The Duk-Duks: Primitive and Historic Types of Citizenship
Elizabeth Anne Weber.
The University of Chicago Press, 1929
Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens: Essays on Immigration and Citizenship
Peter H. Schuck.
Westview Press, 1998
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