The Affective Dimension of Citizenship: A Platonic Account



Contemporary literature on citizenship tends to define citizenship as rights-based, that is, as political membership by means of which one is entitled to certain civic, social, and political rights. This chapter aims to explore the meaning of citizenship while focusing on the affective dimension of citizenship and conceptualizes the affective dimension by re-appropriating insights from Plato’s dialogue The Laws. Ancient philosophy continues to inspire modern theories of politics and citizenship but a re-appropriation of Plato instead of Aristotle is unconventional. And yet, so this chapter argues, Plato provides an interesting resource. The Laws provides the reader with a psychology of the members of the polity including the emotional dispositions that develop in shared group practices. The dialogue proposes that being a member of a political community means that one has internalized the laws of the political community both on a cognitive and emotional level. Following an analysis of the original text, the chapter explores some of the conceptual problems that the development of the affective dimension of citizenship runs into when different levels of governance are taken into account.


Citizenship Plato Affective bonds Constitutional patriotism Political community 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amsterdam University CollegeUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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