Original Paper

Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 348-356

First online:

Global Civil Society and the Question of Global Citizenship

  • Chris ArmstrongAffiliated withDivision of Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton Email author 

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For many recent commentators, the association of citizenship with the nation-state is under siege, as transnational and even global forms of citizenship begin to emerge. The nascent phenomenon of global citizenship in particular is characterized by three components: the global discourse on human rights; a global account of citizenly responsibilities; and finally “global civil society.” This last component is supposed to give a new global citizenship its “political” character, and for many represents the most likely vehicle for the emergence of a global, democratic citizen politics. This paper critically examines this view, asking whether a global form of citizenship is indeed emerging, and if so whether “global civil society” is well-equipped to stand in as its political dimension. The paper examines two opposed narratives on the potential of global civil society to form a political arm of global citizenship, before returning by way of conclusion to the vexed notion of global citizenship itself.


Global citizenship Global civil society Globalization Equality Democracy Neoliberalism