Citizens’ rights and responsibilities

As we have seen, the core concept view sees citizenship as a ‘social contract’ between the state and the individual. This means that there is a widely accepted agreement among citizens of what the rights and responsibilities of the state and citizens are to each other.

Citizen’s rights have come to include the right to:

  • own property
  • have freedom of speech and association
  • choose who governs
  • vote and/or participate in electoral or governance processes
  • have a minimum standard of living
  • gain the protection of the law
  • have a fair trial
  • have access to public services
  • be allowed free movement.

Citizens’ responsibilities include the obligations to:

  • pay taxes and other legally imposed levies
  • obey laws and behave in a socially acceptable way
  • respect the needs of others
  • uphold individual and group rights
  • protect the environment and natural world
  • play an active part in citizenship i.e. in the local community and also wider involvement and service.

Citizenship, both as an idea and in practice, is evolving and changing. The most notable challenges to citizenship are coming from what people have broadly called ‘globalisation’, a term used to describe an increasing economic interconnectedness among individuals, organisations, groups, and states.