Date: 08 Nov 2006

Global Civil Society and the Question of Global Citizenship

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Abstract

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.

This paper draws from the final chapter of Rethinking Equality: the Challenge of Equal Citizenship, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2006.