Citizenship as field

Citizenship as field

Citizenship as field

This year Norway celebrates the 100 year anniversary for women’s right to vote. A group of courageous women used clever rhetoric to carefully explain women’s disadvantaged political position and argued that justice in terms of equal right to vote should prevail. It took almost 100 years (since 1814) for the rights to come true. Before and after 1913 voting rights is a story of struggle for expansion and inclusion of new groups of citizens.  Currently there is debate over expanding the rights to 16 year old adolescents. Most of these debates over rights are fueled by considerations of justice and injustice.

The time from Norway’s liberation in 1914 up till the Second World War is characterized by expanding civil and political right’s, the focus after 1945 has been to develop social rights to groups of citizens. However, national minorities like the Lappish people still had to wait decades before their status as Indigenous people were recognized and special rights were given to them. The political debate has been devoted to adjust policies adapted to achieve more equality for opportunities and move toward a more multicultural state. In this process the Norwegian state had to acknowledge past atrocities as well as look for new forms citizenship policies for national minorities.  Particularly the state had to take steps to adjust assimilationist policies toward a less suppressive practice. Such changes also imply that the state repudiates the idea that it is composed of a single national group. Moving toward a multicultural state thus implies a repudiation of old assimilationist policies and recognition of all citizens equal rights to access the state, have their own ethno-cultural identity, and replacing it with a policy of recognition and accommodation. It is also widely accepted that the changes from a national unitary state toward a greater cultural diversity should acknowledge the historical injustice to minorities.

Currently, globalization, immigration and diversification in society fuel questions of group rights and duties and new identities.  Debates over inclusion and exclusion over the limits of rights and politics of responsibilities continue to fill the public debate over citizenship not only in in Norway, but in Europe and worldwide for that matter.

We share our believes about citizenship studies with Isin and Turner that the field is about addressing injustices suffered by many peoples around the world, making these injustices appear in the public sphere, enabling these groups to articulate these injustices as claims for recognition and enacting them in national as well as transnational laws and practices, and thus bringing about fundamental changes.  Citizenship studies are about producing analytical and theoretical tools with which to address these injustices with the depth, sensibility, scope and commitment that they demand and deserve (Isin & Turner 2002).

Citizenship education is a tool for states to inform and promote its policies its view on rights and duties and inclusion and exclusion. These questions of legal status, of participation, inclusion and identities are contested and highly political in its nature and so are also research and practices in citizenship education.  We wish that this standing group should become a forum for debates over all aspects of citizenship and also citizenship education and practices. We invite you to start here by posting a blog about some your Issus and vie points related to the field.


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