Is the American Model of Citizenship Relevant to Other Countries? |

Is the American Model of Citizenship Relevant to Other Countries?


Political scientists have recently formulated various academic theories of citizenship – often quite arcane -- and applied some of them to American public life. It is the understanding of ordinary Americans, however, that citizenship rests on three broad and basic concepts: (1) formal membership in the state community, as expressed in being a citizen rather than being a resident alien, (2) formal participation rights, such as the rights to vote and speak freely, and (3) a moral obligation to participate well, at times on behalf of the public interest. The second of these amounts to procedural democracy (not always granted to women, to African Americans, to Native Americans, and more), and the third of these amounts to substantive republicanism (not always honored in the present Age of Consumerism with its emphasis on private pleasures and gains). The three concepts entail an assumption that men and women can be regarded as individuals rather than members of groups (possibly disruptive), in which case immigration allows newcomers to become citizens (Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, etc.) by espousing America’s political principles rather than by abandoning their national origins. Can this popular American commitment to democracy/republicanism/individualism be considered relevant to other countries, some plagued by ethnic tensions? And if so, how?

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David Ricci, Professor, Political Science Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Friday, 31 July 2009
12.15 p.m. - 1.30 p.m.

Seminar Room 3-5
Level 3, Manasseh Meyer
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
469C Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259772

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