Citizenship is membership in a political community. The status of a citizen implies attendant duties, rights, and privileges.

The concept of citizenship has undergone several historical modifications to accommodate the specific political and social paradigms of the relevant periods. Each of these modifications has contributed to the contemporary concept of citizenship. In 1950, J. H. Marshall’s typology distinguished three components of citizenship in his work Citizenship and Social Class: Political citizenship refers to the right to participate in the political process as a candidate or as a voter; civil citizenship refers to everyday freedom of speech, movement, work, property ownership, and the right of all citizens to have those freedoms equally protected by judicial process, social citizenship refers to the enjoyment of rights to such things as an education and to a decent and secure standard of living according to the norms of one’s society.

The absence of any real political governing authority makes it difficult to translate the exact old definition of state citizenship to global citizenship. Thus, a new and important dimension of citizenship that warrants attention is the concept of identity. While Marshall’s typology may appear to address this phenomenon, it does not do so unambiguously. From a contemporary perspective, identity should be explicitly included in the construction of any definition of citizenship. This brings about a fourth aspect of citizenship: communal citizenship, which refers to the perceived utility that a citizen derives from belonging or ascribing to a particular community with which he may be able to identify, and hence achieve some measure of self-definition.

The effects of globalization and the new collective threats facilitate the ascription to a common identity, which must be defined. The previous anchor to which the citizen was tied was the polis. What could be the “anchor‿ for the global citizen? Since everyone shares in the “community of humanity,‿ actions that benefit this community are defined by communal interests: health, prosperity, security, or advancement. The world citizen does not have a state with which he can interact and derive his rights; however, “the community of humanity‿ can adequately serve this purpose: While a citizen acts in order to promote the longevity of his state, a citizen of the world acts in order to preserve the existence of collective humanity.

A citizen who acts within and without his national borders by supporting his domestic society eventually helps in establishing a more secure world community. Although his actions are focused domestically, the effects are global. A sense of dualism in action is implied. The citizen of today must conduct his affairs, duties, and responsibilities within his state with the notion that, because of a closely-related international market economy and global society, the success of his state affects the success of the global community, and the interaction between both is dynamic and mutual. The citizen must understand that his actions spill over, and the community has expanded across borders. The new global citizen is responsible to state and global community.

Clearly the proliferation of governance without government, of access points in a polyarchical world, poses huge new challenges to citizenship in the emergent global order. Increasingly people will have to make unfamiliar choices as to whether they channel their loyalties in systemic or subsystemic directions, as to how they resolve conflicting loyalties, as to the bases on which they attach legitimacy to leaders and institutions at the macro level, as to whether they dwell on the uncertainties or the opportunities inherent in the tensions of a bifurcated world, as to whether they opt for order over change or vice versa, as to whether they become involved in more encompassing non-territorial networks or retreat to more close-at-hand outlets for their needs and wants, and so on through a wide range of persistent and (given the world's vast tilt in micro directions) awesome dilemmas.

Until adequate structural and political adjustments are made to fully apportion Marshall's three aspects of citizenship to the world citizen, communal world citizenship provides a strong, rational basis from which these solutions can be established and applied even in the face of absolute sovereignty. This is the primary domain from which the world citizen may determine his identity – in the community of humanity.


James N. Rosenau, Citizenship in a changing world order. In J.N. Rosenau & E-O. Czempiel, Governance without government: Order and change in world politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.286.