A Misconceived Discourse on Political Obligation

  • Bhikhu Parekh
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


This chapter questions the traditional formulation of political obligation as why one should obey the civil authority or respect the law. This individualist view sees citizens as atomised subjects taking their decisions in isolation rather than as mutually responsible individuals who collectively exercise their sovereign control over the conduct of their public affairs and incur several political obligations such as not only obeying the law but also disobeying oppressive laws, protesting against injustices and upholding public norms. The traditional discussion is largely conservative, concerned to maintain order and stability, and finds these obligations of active citizenship unsettling. Its bias needs to be exposed and overcome.


Civil obligation Political obligation Active citizenship 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bhikhu Parekh
    • 1
  1. 1.Politics and International RelationsUniversity of HullHullUK

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