The dinamics on citizenship - a theoretical approach

AuthorDiana Elena Neaga
PositionPhD Candidate with National School of Political Studies and Public Administration (NSPSPA)
242 Lex ET Scientia. Administrative Series
Diana Elena NEAGA1
In this paper I argue that the concept of citizenship is fundamentally a dynamic concept, a
reflection of the society in which we live in. Thus, I identify participation as the main element of
this dynamics. Starting from a simple definition – citizenship as the connecting point between
individuals and the state trough rights and obligations – I note that citizenship is called upon on
one hand in order to legitimate a political community’s authority, and on the other hand, in order
to protect the individuals trough guaranteeing a set of civil, political and social rights. In order to
fulfill these functions, the institution of citizenship must permit a continuous negotiation and re-
negotiation of the social contract, in a well-defined framework (in terms of time and place
coordinates). Thus a particular mechanism emerges, transcending the classical theoretical
approaches meant to explain who, how, for whom and why we discuss he issue of citizenship. My
paper follows a three-step argument: first, I will start by deconstructing the concept of citizenship
to its component elements, stressing out those aspects I consider to be relevant in terms of
dynamics. Secondly, I will look at the main theoretical approaches regarding citizenship,
considered as the results of a modeling process which establishes particular relations between
various elements composing a system. Finally, I will underline the importance of participation
(active or/and passive) in the process of (re-)constructing the concept of citizenship. Also, in this
last part, I will try to synthesize the main elements that contribute to the dynamics of citizenship.
Keywords: citizen ship, theories of citizenship, active participation, passive participation,
The main thesis of my paper is that citizenship is essentially a dynamic concept,
fundamentally depending on the context within it functions. Thus I argue that one of the core
elements composing this dynamics is participation which, in relation with citizenship, develops at
least two dimensions: active participation – implying effective and sustained implication of
individuals and groups in the governing processes affecting their lives, and passive participation,
which implies that the lack of action is a form of response or an implicit evaluation of the social
contract at one given moment, thus o form of agreeing on the status quo.
Studying the dynamics of citizenship has in my view at least two major implications: first, it
makes available the proper analytical tools with which one can understand the historical changes
of the concept, and secondly, it may provide researchers with the ability to forecast future
directions in which the concept may change and evolve.
Thus, in this paper I want to reveal the flexible points or aspects present in the concept of
citizenship that can reveal its dynamic nature. I consider such an approach as necessary due to the
1 PhD Candidate with National School of Political Studies and Public Administration (NSPSPA), beneficiary
of the project “Doctoral scholarships supporting research: Competitiveness, quality, and cooperation in the
European Higher Education Area”, co-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund, Sectorial
Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007-2013; webmail:

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