There are various philosophical and political perspectives as to the concept of citizenship. This paper will seek to canvas this vital concept in line with civil republicanism. The paper will also examine the extent of social capital literature contribution on matters affects or seek to influence citizenship. Abraham Lincoln argued that there are essential factors that must be present in a mature democracy in order for the true fruits of democracy to be realized. These include values of liberty, justice, equality and opportunity. He further argued that the despite these values being inherent in any democracy, they are not guaranteed and the American citizens must be vigilant in order to ensure their implementation. The questioned that need answers therefore include the responsibilities of the American citizenry and what it entails being an American citizen.
If the grand democracy is to succeed there than there are various fundamental obligations that American citizens must ensure they undertake. They must subscribe to the doctrines of active citizenship. This entails engaging in voluntary organization and communities as a people to make decisions that affect their lives. The Social capital report of 2003 stipulates that active citizenship involves active excising of social rights and ensuring the implementation of shared responsibilities. It is critical that citizenship should not be regarded as a mere legal status. Legal status citizenship merely entails a person enjoyment of civil rights, payment of taxes and a cultural identity. However, citizenship should encompass rather broad meaning which includes citizen participation in daily running of a duly elected government, participating in community work and pursuing shared goals.
In fast changing mature democracies, citizens choose their identities and roles that they place in order to ensure amelioration of a community and the society at large. Honohan argues that attitude, awareness and intentions for deliberative engagement are key pillars for active citizenship. In the opinion of these papers these should be the core values of the American citizenry. It is extremely important for citizens to be part of the decision making of a country either directly or indirectly through their representatives.
Social capital and active citizenship have been subject to recent academic debate about their close relations. These two broad concepts work hand in hand to ensure amelioration of society and democracy. Coleman argues that information-sharing, sanctions and norms in social networks, and expectations and obligations form the cardinal pillars of social capital. On the other hand, Putnam argues that it is vital for the benefits of social capital to be enhanced in order to ensure the restoration of trust that people had in the government. Therefore, social capital and active citizenship work hand in hand to ensure that citizens remain focused to their obligations to the state. It is crucial to ensure this because as Lincoln once argued a democracy should be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This paper underlines the significance of ensuring active participation of the public to put to account government officers. Therefore, being an American citizen is a responsibility which must be exercised within the tenets of democracy. A citizen must not only ensure he secures the gains of democracy by being active in political affairs, but also engaging in community development and supporting effective social capital.
Putnam, R. D. (2001). Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Smith, S. (2007). Democracy not 'Liberty' or 'Equality' in our Political Dualism.
Smith, S. (2007). The Concept of Active Citizenship.
Smith, S. (2008). Towards a political science of citizenship.