Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Citizenship is the condition of membership within a political community. While citizenship refers broadly to a shared political status, theories of citizenship vary widely in their interpretations of the scope, shape, and depth of that status. Citizenship may refer to a formal legal category, the condition of sharing an ascribed characteristic such as ancestry or ethnicity, a set of shared cultural or civic practices, or an aspirational ideal. Debates over the boundaries and content of citizenship—who is included within the citizenry and what entitlements and obligations accompany the status of citizenship—are at the heart of contemporary political debates on topics ranging from immigration policy to the welfare state. Citizenship may assume both thin forms, characterized by relatively weak levels of association between citizens, and thick forms, where the definition of citizenship assumes a more robust character. In a thin view, citizenship may refer simply to the legal rights and the ...