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To critically discuss the claim that citizenship is a contested and fluid concept, this essay will examine how modern citizenship was revived by sociologist T.H Marshall (1950). The work of Lewis (1998) and Turner (2001) challenge Marshalls theory and

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Introduction

"Critically discuss the claim that citizenship is a contested and fluid concept" To critically discuss the claim that citizenship is a contested and fluid concept, this essay will examine how modern citizenship was revived by sociologist T.H Marshall (1950). The work of Lewis (1998) and Turner (2001) challenge Marshall's theory and are important as they take into account dimensions of citizenship which Marshall's theory is lacking. Social changes which have taken place since along with the feminist perspective will also be discussed to highlight the contested nature of citizenship. To show that citizenship is a fluid concept, the New Right attack on the citizenship values envisaged by Marshall will be critically discussed. New Labours appropriation of citizenship shows a marked progression from the New Right as well as some similarities which will be considered. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn taking the above into account. Citizenship focuses on the relationship between the citizen, state and social welfare (Lewis, 1998) but "the meaning of citizenship is perennially the subject of contestation and it is through this process of contestation that the relationship between the citizen and the state is being continuously redefined" (Carr & Hartnett, 1996 cited in Lister 1998 p82). ...read more.

Middle

The obligations and responsibilities which today play a crucial part in the notion of citizenship are missing from his account. The lack of clarity in the concept of citizenship has allowed it to be appropriated by various political parties (Lister, 1998). There has been a shift from rights to an obligations based construction which shows its fluid nature. Thatcherism brought about a direct attack on the welfare rights as envisaged by Marshall. In the Conservatives eyes, the development of state intervention represented state socialism and a loss of freedom. This in turn created irresponsible societies who look to the state for support and provisions which they should be providing for themselves (Phillips, 1991). Liberal economic and political theories have therefore underpinned policies and reforms pursued during the Thatcher administration holding values of competitive individualism, a minimum state role and maximum market role (King, 1988). Through minimising state intervention and in the promotion of the private market, universal citizenship rights seem to have been eroded with responsibility and obligation taking their place (Alcock, 1989). The most important obligation here is the duty to work. John Moore, the social security secretary under Thatcher emphasised the work obligation of social security claimants. ...read more.

Conclusion

Marshall's work is an important starting point in understanding modern social citizenship but the social and political changes that have taken place since have significantly undermined his ideas. Social changes since the 1950's have highlighted tensions in citizenship such as inclusion and exclusion. These tensions however have given a powerful voice to those previously excluded in their fight for full citizenship rights and have had a considerable impact on citizenship as it is today. The varied adoption of the use of citizenship by the two main political parties has shown its fluid nature. It is also important to note that there is also some continuity between parties, dubbed the new consensus (Lister, 1998). New Labour and New Right both propagate the importance of rights and duties but New Labour have attempted to expand on opportunities to help people to fulfil their obligations. These factors force citizenship to be a fluid concept as there is no single accepted definition. As proposed in the Comit´┐Ż des Sages (1996, p13 cited in Lister, 1998) a nation state "must have a clear statement of the citizenship it is offering to its members". Without a clear, unambiguous statement, citizenship will continue to be re-defined as further changes take place on a national and global level. ...read more.

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