What is Citizenship

The challenge of defining Citizenship

Citizenship is a word and concept that has acquired many uses and meanings. As a concept with a complex and controversial pedigree, the meaning of citizenship changes as the nature and values of society change:

A modern definition: the relationship between the citizen and the state

Although precise definitions of citizenship are contested by academics, in today’s usage, citizenship can also be described in terms or relationships and behaviours:

Citizenship: relevant to all people

Aims of Citizenship Education

The aim of the Citizenship curriculum has been:

Citizenship Education: knowledge and skills

Knowledge content: What an informed citizen needs to know

The Citizenship curriculum captured key aspects of the subject with the original focus (in the 2002 launch of citizenship in schools) on key ‘strands’ of knowledge:

Capacity or Capability: The skills and abilities that informed citizens should be able to exercise

As important as the content, but often forgotten, were the skills that went alongside the ‘strands’ of content. These included essential life skills for the 21st century citizen, such as:

Active Citizenship – Participation in civic and civil society

Informed citizenship for the 21st century

The Institute for Citizenship (set up in 1992 as a result of the recommendations of the 1990 All Party Parliamentary Commission on Citizenship) is interested in the broadest definitions of citizenship.

The Institute’s concern is with all citizens of all ages and with whole society problems and, as part of an inclusive approach, our remit is to explore complex, interrelated citizenship issues and to seek debate and action about whole society solutions.