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Citizenship: not just a status – also a practice

November 14, 2012

In their introduction to a work on ‘Cultural Citizenship’, Judith Vega and Pieter Boele van Hensbroek refer their reader to the work of Lolle Nauta:

“Nauta,” they write, “alerts us to the fact that citizenship cannot just be a ‘status’ but is always also a practice. In that light, he distinguishes three different ‘cultural resources’ of modern citizenship: models of practicing rules that orient people’s actions. Next to the distinct and competing models of the market (economic interaction) and the forum (political or public interaction), he points out ‘identity-formation’ as a third context of citizens’ interactions. For it ‘hardly makes sense to inquire into the nature of public interaction and to neglect its subjects’ (Nauta 1992, p.31) – as these subjects do not come from nowhere into modernity’s central arenas. ‘Crucial for identity-formation is a learning process where the individual acquires the ability to deal with the interests of other human beings in a non-violent way’ (p.30). Proffering this idea, Nauta at once emphasises the problem of the unequal distribution of the cultural capital necessary to face modern society.
[Quoting Nauta, Vega and Boele van Hensbroek add:] Second- or third-class citizens in the modern ‘welfare states’ are citizens who never had the opportunity of such an education and who are sometimes not even able to read a newspaper or understand a talkshow. Because of their lack of cultural capital, they can become easy victims of nationalism, racism or some other form of mass-manipulation. They are treated as the enemies of democracy, but in many cases democracy has been an adversary of theirs. (Nauta 1992, p.31)” (p.3)

What interests me here is the connection between national identity and the individual in terms of ‘non-violent’ relationships that are learned… as well as the reference to violence through enacted citizenship…

Ref: Judith Vega and Pieter Boele van Hensbroek ‘Introduction: The agendas of cultural citizenship: a political-theoretical exercise’ pp.1- 13 in Eds. Judith Vega and Pieter Boele van Hensbroek (2012) Cultural Citizenship in Political Theory. Routledge: London and New York. Reference is to: Nauta, L. 1992. Changing Conceptions of citizenship. Praxis 12(1), 20-34

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