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Active Citizenship

Active Citizenship: What Could it Achieve and How?

Bernard Crick
Andrew Lockyer
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Active Citizenship
    Book Description:

    In recent years there has been much political talk and academic debate on the subject of active citizenship, to which Bernard Crick's work has been central. His 'mission statement' (repeated here) is to induce 'no less than a change in political culture', to replace passive democracy, grounded on unsocial individualism and consumer values, with the republican ideal of 'active citizens, willing, able and equipped to have an influence on public life…'.Here a group of political actors and academics, who believe a radically more active citizenship is a worthy aim, are invited to spell out in their particular area of concern, the obstacles and how they might be overcome, either by institutional innovation or changes in culture, and what be the benefits for democracy in the UK. Bernard Crick's first and final essays set the tone, respectively, on Civic Republicanism Today and Political Identity. Other contributors consider active citizenship in relation to: Labour Government Policy (David Blunkett and Matthew Taylor); Scottish Devolution (George Reid); Public Services (David Donnison); Gender Equality (Rhona Fitzgerald); Schools (Pamela Munn); Multiculturalism (Dina Kiwan); Integrating Immigrants (Elizabeth Meehan); Lifelong Learning (John Annette); Europe and International Understanding (Derek Heater); Young People (Andrew Lockyer) and Scottish Independence (Kevin Francis).

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4322-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. viii-ix)
    Bernard Crick and Andrew Lockyer
  5. Prolegomenon
    (pp. x-xiii)
    Andrew Lockyer
  6. List of Contributors
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)
    Andrew Lockyer

    Crick presents a conceptual history of the civic republican tradition of thinking about citizenship and identifies within this lineage, as an alternative history of citizenship theory to the dominant liberal tradition, a corrective to what he sees as the overly individualistic, litigious and inactive nature of contemporary political life.

    Crick evokes Benjamin Constant’s 1820 work The Liberty of the Ancients Compared to that of the Moderns to highlight the contrast between the classical aim of sharing ‘social power among citizens of the same fatherland’ with the modern preference for the ‘enjoyment of liberty in private pleasures’ where ‘the guarantees accorded...

  8. 1 Civic Republicanism and Citizenship: The Challenge for Today
    (pp. 16-25)
    Bernard Crick

    Consider this first essay in this series as a ‘secular sermon’. I will preach on and around three texts. Their admonishments and message will be that while, of course, you and I all want to be good citizens, particularly for others to be good citizens, particularly for young people to be very good citizens, yet surveys, common observation and the content of the media all show that many or most of our fellow citizens are losing the desire, the will and the means to be active citizens. Some commentators now gravely discuss whether apathy is not a good thing, an...

  9. 2 Active Citizenship and Labour
    (pp. 26-38)
    David Blunkett and Matthew Taylor

    As E. P. Thompson pointed out in his seminal work The Making of the English Working Class (1963), around 10 per cent of the population in the mid-nineteenth century were members of mutual societies – despite levels of illiteracy, poverty and political exclusion. Membership of societies varied from craft unions (savings against likely unemployment) through to the Goose and Burial clubs, which as their name implied, were about savings for Christmas and for a ‘decent burial’. Above all people came together literally in the act of survival. They supported each other through times of joy and untold misery, they started...

  10. 3 The Fourth Principle: Sharing Power with the People of Scotland
    (pp. 39-56)
    George Reid

    In just under six months Scotland goes to the polls in elections to our third parliament. The same day the country votes, for the first time proportionally, for its new local councils. It is not for me to say whether 3 May 2007 will be a cusp of change or not.¹ But it would be a strange politician who was not mulling over the implications next year of minority government or of a coalition renegotiated on who-shares-what-power at Holyrood. And an even stranger one unwilling to contemplate how proportional representation (PR) will fundamentally change our political culture at grassroots level...

  11. 4 Power and Public Services: For Customers or Citizens?
    (pp. 57-70)
    David Donnison

    The questions of governance I shall be dealing with in this essay were central to Bernard Crick’s interests and I was looking forward to discussing them with him. My answers to them would have been better had I had the opportunity to do so.¹

    In every generation there are people who remember events that occurred early in their lives which changed their world. I cannot recall where I was when news of John Kennedy’s assassination broke, but I shall never forget the moment when I heard of Labour’s victory in the 1945 election. I was a midshipman standing on the...

  12. 5 Active Citizenship: Gender Equality and Democracy
    (pp. 71-84)
    Rona Fitzgerald

    This essay will address the question of what active citizenship would do for gender equality and thereby, for democracy. The model of active citizenship in the classical republican tradition that has been endorsed by proponents like Hannah Arendt, and that has influenced work by Bernard Crick, is considered gendered. The feminist critique of classical civic republicanism suggests that the historical articulation of active citizenship favours masculine virtues and that it presupposes a sharp division between the public and private spheres. In addition, academic feminists make the case that this version of civic republicanism is gender-biased because it undervalues women, ignores...

  13. 6 What can Active Citizenship Achieve for Schools and through Schools?
    (pp. 85-99)
    Pamela Munn

    For the first time ever throughout the United Kingdom young people will be leaving school having done ‘citizenship’, in one form or another. In England, citizenship education became a statutory foundation subject in secondary schools in 2002 and non-statutory guidelines were also given at primary-school level in the same year. The creation of citizenship as a statutory part of the timetable followed government acceptance of the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Citizenship, chaired by Bernard Crick and set up in 1998 by David Blunkett, then Secretary of State for Education. In Scotland, the Advisory Committee on Education for Citizenship,...

  14. 7 Active Citizenship: Multiculturalism and Mutual Understanding
    (pp. 100-111)
    Dina Kiwan

    Over the last ten years, there has been widespread interest in citizenship, and this is particularly evident in ethnically and religiously diverse societies, as is evident in both academic and policy discourses in the UK. Clearly, ‘citizenship’ is a contested concept, with many competing (and overlapping) conceptualisations, including citizenship framed in moral terms, as a legal status, in terms of active participation, and in terms of identifying with the political community (whether this be local, national or global). Indeed, Bernard Crick and Andrew Lockyer take as a starting point in the Preface of this book the question of ‘good’ citizenship...

  15. 8 Active Citizenship: For Integrating the Immigrants
    (pp. 112-128)
    Elizabeth Meehan

    Active citizenship is an aspect of recent reforms of nationality and immigration policies in the United Kingdom. There are both ideological and conceptual difficulties in addressing the question of what active citizenship, as outlined by Bernard Crick in the opening essay in this book, could achieve for the integration of immigrants. The answer depends largely on the framework from which one starts. As Kymlicka (2009) points out, some critics argue that the new citizenship agenda ‘panders to xenophobic sentiments’, reinforcing ‘ideological assumptions about the essential homogeneity of existing citizens and of the alien otherness of newcomers’. Conversely, ‘defenders argue that...

  16. 9 Democratic Citizenship and Lifelong Active Learning
    (pp. 129-136)
    John Annette

    This essay explores to what extent should attempts to introduce more deliberative democratic engagement, in the form of citizen juries, citizens’ assemblies, participatory budgeting, and so on, be part of a citizenship education for lifelong learning informed by a ‘political’ or civic republican conception of citizenship which had been espoused by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick. This can be compared to a liberal individualist conception, which emphasises individual rights, or a communitarian conception, which emphasises moral and social responsibility. It also considers how people are finding new ways to engage in civic participation which can provide the basis for...

  17. 10 Active Citizenship for Europe and International Understanding
    (pp. 137-153)
    Derek Heater

    Twenty years ago, ignoring the precedent (admittedly with a totally different meaning) in the French Revolution, the Home Office claimed to have invented the term ‘active citizen’. From 1988 to 1990 the combined words constantly issued forth from the vocal cords of ministers and the pages of the quality press. Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary, defined its key as the traditions of ‘the diffusion of power, civil obligation, and voluntary service’ (Heater 1991: 140). Both he and the other contributors to the debate were commending responsibilities for and participation in national, mainly local, social activities. Neither Europe nor international understanding...

  18. 11 Young People as Active Political Citizens
    (pp. 154-170)
    Andrew Lockyer

    In the last decade of the twentieth century there was an increasing recognition of children’s rights which both informed the scholarly discourse surrounding children and childhood, and significantly influenced public policy in relation to children and families. The widespread subscription to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989), adopted with minor reservation by the UK government in 1991, provoked substantial re-examination of the status and treatment of young people. This is evidenced for example by the creation of four Children’s Commissioners with responsibilities, in the several parts of the UK, to safeguard and promote the rights...

  19. 12 Active Citizenship and Sharing Power in Scotland: The Need to Go Beyond Devolution
    (pp. 171-186)
    Kevin Francis

    So the Scottish Parliament announces itself on its website and arguably it has done a good job with respect to three of these four founding principles. The building itself, no matter how controversial its design has been, has a distinctly open and accessible feel to it. Sitting in the visitors’ gallery, one is close indeed to proceedings on the floor of the house. Sitting in on committee meetings is a relatively easy matter; and the ambience of the building is one of openness. There is live on-line feed from the floor of the House and from committee meetings via its...

  20. 13 Identity Politics: Multiculturalism, Britishness and Europe
    (pp. 187-198)
    Bernard Crick

    That every nation should constitute a state was an idea and an ideal of nineteenth-century European nationalism, arising from the French Revolution that spread throughout the world. Here in Britain we used to remember vividly the struggles of the Poles, the Hungarian’s and Garibaldi’s Italians against dynastic oppression. And at the end of the nineteenth century feudal Japan in the Mejii restoration adopted Western-style nationalism as well as Western science and industrial and military technology.

    But in fact not every nation does constitute a state, and many states in Africa, South America and South East Asia have proved highly unstable...

  21. Index
    (pp. 199-206)