Graduate Citizens? Issues of Citizenship and Higher Education

By John Ahier; John Beck et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Prospects for social national citizenship in the United Kingdom

Imperilled but not impossible?

2.1

Introduction

In this chapter we examine a range of challenges faced by what we shall for the moment call 'social national' citizenship, and we go on to offer a tentative assessment of the prospects of sustaining this form of citizenship in contemporary Britain. Our review in Chapter 1 of the distinctive character of citizenship in Britain has implicitly recognised that citizenship is inherently contested - both as a concept and in terms of the historically specific forms in which it is institutionalised. No less an authority than Aristotle, in The Politics, recognised that citizenship is a matter about which 'there is no unanimity of agreement' (1981:168). Moreover, the progressive establishment and extension of citizenship rights have, to a significant extent, been the product of religious, class, gender and ethnic contestation. And the extension of such rights in the future is unlikely to be conflict-free: as Ralph Dahrendorf has observed 'the class conflict for the extension of the entitlements of citizenship is the precondition for extending the range of those eligible for them' (1996:35).

In spite of all this, we shall in the remainder of this book use the term citizenship - without further qualification - to designate that form of citizenship which both includes significant social elements as rights of citizenship and which is grounded in membership of a nation, hence our earlier formulation 'social national' citizenship. In so doing we are not, of course, making any claim that there exists a clearly articulated and vibrant citizenship identity of this kind in modern Britain. Chapter 1 has sufficiently explained why this is not the case. Nor are we denying the existence or the potency of past or competing conceptions of

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Graduate Citizens? Issues of Citizenship and Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • List of Abbreviations viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Citizenship in Britain 7
  • Chapter 2 - Prospects for Social National Citizenship in the United Kingdom 35
  • Chapter 3 - Citizenship and the Restructuring of Higher Education 62
  • Chapter 4 - Citizenship Themes in Students' Lives 99
  • Chapter 5 - Citizenship, Mutuality and Civil Society 132
  • Chapter 6 - Conclusion 157
  • Appendix 172
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 186
  • Index 197
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