Building citizen skills and activation strategies
About Lesson


Citizenship is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the state of being a member of a particular country and having rights because of it; the qualities that a good citizen is expected to have, such as being responsible, caring about other people’s lives and rights, willing to participate in the society, amongst others (pp.1-2).1 Academic scholars similarly define citizenship as

“the status of belonging to a political community and the rights and duties that this entails. The notion of citizenship encompasses both formal legal status and the lived experience of belonging to a community, with all the benefits and challenges that this brings” (pp-6-7).2 

In summary, citizenship refers to refers to the legal and societal status of individuals as members of a particular country or nation, granting them certain rights, responsibilities, and privileges and is a cornerstone of democracy, as it provides the basis for citizens’ participation and engagement in the democratic process.

However, changing notions of citizenship and debates over who qualifies as a citizen can influence the dynamics of democracy and populism. Populist movements, for instance, may try to challenge the status quo of citizenship and seek to redefine the rights and privileges associated with it.

Therefore, we can define populism as:

“a political discourse that presents itself as the voice of the people against the elites and seeks to create a homogenous and authentic community based on a shared sense of identity and common grievances. Populist movements typically emphasize the need for a strong leader, direct democracy, and the rejection of pluralism and diversity” (p.550).3

Lastly, but with the upmost importance we define democracy as

“a system of government that is characterized by political equality, popular sovereignty, and the rule of law. It is a form of government in which the people exercise collective power to make decisions about their lives and the future of their society” (p.571).4

After covering the three main key concepts that will be present in this module, we begin with a dive into what really means to be a citizen.

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