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Is there a meaningful way in which we can talk about global citizenship in the contemporary context?

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  1. Introduction.
    1. The actual and cumulative process of globalisation.
    2. The context of globalisation and a new sphere for political theory.
  2. The very meaning of 'global citizenship'.
    1. A real philosophical and political concept?
    2. Plato and Aristotle's political theories.
    3. Plato and Aristotle: Citizenship as the privilege of capable men.
  3. Stoicism and a totally different definition of citizenship.
    1. Cosmopolitanism.
    2. The founding ambiguity of the concept of citizenship.
    3. Why the nation-state institution that uses other nations as 'constitutive others'.
  4. Nationalism: Reinforcing the will of minorities to defend their identity.
  5. The outstripping of the nation-state by other supranational forces and actors is likely to rehabilitate cosmopolitanism as a concept.
  6. An irreversible opening of national economic territories.
  7. A new embryonic framework of supranational regulation.
  8. Conclusion.
  9. Bibliography.

In his famous address at the Sorbonne in Paris, Albert Einstein laid ironically the stress on the very limits of the concept of ?global citizenship?. Indeed, even though the process of globalisation of trade, science or more generally speaking ?culture? have unquestionably aroused international and, above all, supra-national common stakes, the sentiment of belonging to a country and the concrete exercise of rights and liberties have remained fiercely linked with the concept of the nation-state, that is to say ?territoriality?. The major problem is that, in the actual and cumulative process of globalisation ?nevertheless still restrained to certain domains, above all economic-related ?, the concept of citizenship itself has appeared changing and even versatile insofar as it has been equally used by antagonistic actors (defenders of Anglo-Saxon economic liberal theories and alter-globalisation defenders, pro-EU and sovereignists, liberal intellectuals and nationalists?) with different meanings and different purposes. So because citizenship has always been a concept liable to different definitions and interpretations, the context of the outstripping of the nation-state has led to a certain ?speculation? that had created an immense gap between those who claim that being a Man is enough to be called a ?citizen of the world? as a part of the ?cosmos? (the rationally organised universe) and those, at the other extremity of the spectrum, who argue that cosmopolitanism is an empty utopia with the absence of global, supranational political institutions and common rights and duties.

[...] For all that, we can say that we can only talk about ?global citizenship? in terms of the development of a cosmopolitan consciousness and sentiment of living in an interconnected world where economic but also increasingly political, social, cultural, ecological interferences are becoming more and more inevitable. But political legitimacy has great difficulty to outstrip the nation-state without generating fear of technocratic, bureaucratic distant governing and deprivation of the right to choose for ourselves. So we cannot really talk about global citizenship understood as a set of global effective rights and duties since even international agreements on pollution, atomic energy, economic governance, conflict pacification or international courts of justice are subject to the good will of member states that still rates national concerns and interests higher than global solutions. [...]


[...] So we will have to discuss the meaning of global citizenship in the contemporary context with both conceptions. Secondly, citizenship has historically been strongly linked with the development and the consolidation (either a priori or a posteriori) of the nation-state. Indeed, although the legacy of Stoic cosmopolitanism found immense repercussions in Humanism, as exemplified by Descartes' universal reason[4] and later in Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant who claimed the ?cosmopolitan destiny of humanity? which did not have vocation to fragmentation and war[5], the development of the typically European paradigm of the nation-state since the 16th and 17th century (and first a Western European feature embodied by the examples of Great Britain, Spain and France in the 16th and 17th century, then by Italy and Germany in the late 19th century) favoured the more restricted definition of citizenship. [...]


[...] Good sense is the most equally distributed thing among men Descartes in Discourse of the Method of rightly conducting the Reason, and seeking Truth in the Sciences (1637). Emmanuel Kant's call to a ?United Europe? to ensure durable peace in Perpetual Peace Political theorist Quentin Skinner (The Foundations of modern political thought 2001) laid the stress on the fact that independence both means political independence vis-à-vis other countries and spiritual independence vis-à-vis Rome. Carolus Magnus was sacred Emperor of the West (actual France except Brittany, Western and Southern Germany, Austria, Italy with the exception of the Papal States, Christian North of Spain) by Pope Leon XIII in 800 in Roma. [...]

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