Dalton defines a good citizen according to the first half of the 20th century as an individual who has the qualities of loyalty, compliance, and obligation to authority and also has a “subject” mentality. Dalton describes this norm as “duty-based citizenship” (Dalton, 80) However, since the 1960s to date, the definition of a good citizen has changed to one who has higher tolerance, approaches government affairs more directly, and is concerned about the well being of other individuals in the U.S. as well as globally. This new definition of good a good citizen constitutes the new norm described as “engaged citizenship” (81)
Dalton explains that a duty-based citizen is one who is involved in the social order norms. The strongest element of these individuals is their willingness to report a crime (80). Additionally these individuals hold the responsibility to vote in high regard (80). These individuals are greatly affiliated with loyalty to the nation and voting (81). On the other hand, Dalton describes the engaged citizen as one who is involved in the communitarian and liberal citizenship norms (81). This kind of citizenship comprises of the solidarity measure and two forms of participation. The two forms of participation of engaged citizens are general political activity and participation in civil society groups (81). Political autonomy is another element the engaged citizen whereby these citizens make decisions that are independent of the opinions of others (81). The engaged citizen is one who has political independence, addresses social needs, and has the willingness to follow his/her principles in their actions (81).
Duty based citizens follow citizenship norms that encourage people to fulfill civic duty whereby this would promote election turnout along with involvement in other forms of actions that are institutionalized (85). Engaged citizens should also promote political action. However, their methods of participation tend to divert from party and elections involvement, observed in duty-based citizens–who are active in institutionalized activities, and tend towards participation in direct kinds of action (86). Higher activity in civil society and volunteerism may be promoted by the solidarity aspect of engaged citizenship (86). The norms of duty-based citizens promote participation in elections but discourage other types of activities like protest (88). Engaged citizens however have a greater likelihood of participations in boycotts and other forms of action that may be considered contentious (88).
I would define a good citizen as one who is concerned about the well being of other people (willing to help other people), participates actively in the community, and is also one who is respectful to the law as well as to fellow citizens. The difference between being just a citizen and being a good citizen is that a citizen may be anyone who obtains citizenship through ways like birth or residence to become a member of a country, which would not necessarily make one a good citizen. On the other hand a good citizen as one who takes up the responsibility to fulfill his or her obligation as a good citizen such as being respectful, active participation, and willingness to help other people.
A good citizen must also possess a second characteristic of autonomy (78). This means that a good citizen needs to be adequately informed on the issues involving the government so as to play a participatory role. A good citizen should be active in democratic deliberation, engage in political discussions with other citizens, and understand the opinions and views of other people.
The third characteristic of a good citizen is that of social order and entails respecting and accepting the authority of the state as a vital element of citizenship (79). Under this category of citizenship, a good citizen should be willing to serve in the army, report a crime, and serve on a jury. Under social order, a good citizen should also obey the laws and regulations of the country. Lastly, as the fourth characteristic, a good citizen should possess solidarity which refers to being concerned about other people and having the willingness to help them (79).
I consider myself to be a good citizen because I am always willing to help other people; I am respectful to the law and to other citizens; and last but not least, I also participate actively in political public issues such as voting. To become a better citizen; I would have to look for new ways to help other people; participate in constructive activities in my community such as voting and cleaning the environment; I would also seek a great education to become a useful person in my community; and last but not least, I would volunteer with organizations both locally and internationally to better the lives of other people. Even if we are simply born into becoming citizens, it would take great responsibility to grow into becoming good citizens. To grow into good citizens would require educating the young of what good citizenship entails, and the benefits of becoming good citizens. Therefore it would be important to grow into good citizens.
In summary, Dalton refers to a good citizen as an individual who has the qualities of loyalty, compliance, and obligation to authority and also has a “subject” mentality based on the definition of the first half of the 20th century. This definition entails what duty-based citizenship is. He then gives a later definition of a good citizen, as one who has higher tolerance, approaches government affairs more directly, and is concerned about the well being of other individuals in the U.S. as well as globally. This description reflects engaged citizenship. Whichever the definition, a good citizen is basically an individual who respects the law, is autonomous, believes in helping others, and participates in political and community activities,
Dalton, Russell J. The Good Citizen. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008. Print.