Polsoc week 8 slideshare


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The concept of citizenship tends to be seen as inclusive. Today, more and more emphasis is placed on education for citizenship and is a major part of the curriculum. However, different theories of citizenship conceive it in different ways. Different tiers of citizenship are created according to the extent to which a person is said to belong. In some states, citizenship is conferred according to birth (jus soli) whereas in others it is a question of inheritance (jus sanguinus). However, even if someone is nominally a full citizen, they can be excluded in different ways, for example, due to their sex, ethnicity, or class status. This week we will examine the concept of citizenship and look at who is included, and who is excluded by it. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which class and socioeconomic deprivation have an effect on the ability to be a full citizen by examining the role of education, the Welfare State, and political participation.

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  • The problem with basing citizenship on a rights-based approach becomes clear when we start to consider who gets left out when we try to apply Marshall’s three groups of rights in practice. There is always going to be someone who cannot be covered by these rights, either because they are not citizens of a state, because they have lost their rights in some way (e.g. by going to prison, being committed to a mental health institution...), or their rights can be curtailed in some way by not having the ability to gain equal access to the institutions that govern those rights. \n\nSo, arguably, if someone has had a poor education or is homeless, or is a member of a marginalised minority they will simply not be able to exercise their rights in the same way as someone who has not suffered these disadvantages.\n\nThis leads us to the subject of human rights - covered to some extent by Marshall’s concept of civil rights. Human rights have gained in global appeal as the structure to which those denied their rights can try to gain them, or regain them. The signing of international conventions of human rights and the establishment of institutions such as the European Court of Human Rights, goes towards enshrining these rights in law. However, as some critics have noted it is not always an easy or straightforward answer to redressing inequality.\n\nThere are several problems with a human rights approach, some of which are foundational - that is they relate to the philosophy behind human rights ideas, and some of which are practical, relating to how to implement human rights.\n\n1. Foundational problems:\n\nAs Costas Douzinas has noted in his two books on Human Rights, a crucial problem with the idea of human rights is that they are cast as natural. So, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’\n\nHowever, we know this not to be true. There are huge disparities between the conditions in which different people around the world are born. The material dignity of someone born to middle-class, dual-income parents living in London, New York or Paris will invariably differ extensively to that of someone born in a slum in Mumbai, or even on a council estate in their own countries. \n\nAccording to Douzinas, contrary to the words of the declaration, equality is actually unnatural and is therefore something that has to be fought for. People are not free and equal but must fight to become so, and often that is a losing battle. \n\nThe people who are arguably the ones in most need of human rights protection are often the ones who cannot fight for them. For example, a refugee is often unable to fight because she finds herself in a strange country where she doesn’t speak the language, may have lost everything including loved ones, a home, etc.\n\nSo, as Douzinas points out, bare humanity doesn’t provide us with any protection. ‘Human rights... do not belong to humans; they help us construct who and how one becomes human.”\n\nA second foundational problem with human rights, according to Douzinas, is that they require institutions to implement them. If human rights were truly natural, they would simply exist for everyone by virtue of being born. However, as we know, we need these conventions, courts and judgments to bring them into being, as well as the organisations struggling to make sure they are practiced and upheld. \n\nDouzinas examines the founding declaration of human rights - coming out of the French revolution and entitled ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”. The problem, says Douzinas, is that despite the fact that the Declaration claims that the rights of ‘men’ are universal and inalienable, it is the declaration itself which proclaims the right of man. Hence, arguably those rights did not exist - therefore cannot be universal or natural - because they require the declaration to be drawn up in order for them to be sen as existing.\n\nSecondly, the declaration requires the French national assembly to proclaim the rights of ‘man’ and in-so-doing ‘ushered man onto the world scene’.The universality of this is called into question when we ask what happens to those who are not represented by the French national assembly.\n\nThe problem for Douzinas is the connection of the rights and ‘man’ and of ‘the citizen’ which appear in the same declaration. In the context when the declaration was written, citizens id not include aliens, slaves, women, blacks, colonials and so on. Therefore, there is an internal tension inherent to the declaration. The question, therefore, is can the declaration be used as a means of guaranteeing the rights of everyone.\n\nWhen we look at how the right to asylum or the right to a family life, for example, are constantly reneged upon by immigration policy, detention, etc. in today’s context we can see how these types of declaration may be inadequate. There does not seem to be a way to respect the individual’s rights as an individual because the fact that a state or international institution is required to confer these rights means that there will always be a conflict of interest at the heart of human rights. \n\nMorality\n\nAnother problem noted by Douzinas is the role of humanity in human rights. The individual nature of human rights means that they can also be used to make individualist arguments. He claims that, from a humanitarian perspective, we may argue that someone who has been violated - e.g. a victim of torture - may deserve to be accorded their human rights by being protected from that occurring again. \n\nHowever, Douzinas argues that human rights have become so ubiquitous so that anyone can claim that their human rights have been violated. He gives the example of Fred Goodwin (former head of RBS) using arguments about human rights to protect his right to a £703,000 a year pension despite his role in assisting in the collapse of the British banking system and the knock on effects of that.\n\nIn this way, rights can be used as means of defending the individual against the collective; sometimes thus can be a good thing, but sometimes it can also lead to an abuse of the protections that human rights are supposed to put in place.\n\nThe problem, according to Douzinas, as that the language of human rights is used by anyone. They form the basis for arguments for development, social justice and peace, for some, but are also central to the language of liberalism, capitalism and individualism for others. When we think about the theme of strikes this becomes clear - for some striking is about the right to strike, while for others striking denies others the right to work. Where you stand ideologically will determine how you view this. But, crucially, both sides set up their arguments in terms of ‘rights’.\n\n
  • Spirit Level - show film \n\nPay gap:\n\nFigures published by the Office for National Statistics on November 23, 2001 reveal that the pay gap in the UK is wider than ever before. People who earn the least have seen an increase in their pay of just 0.1% between 2010 and 2011 while the tope earners’s pay has increased 18 times. This is despite the fact that inflation stands at 5%. That suggests that not only is pay being frozen or raised only slightly for those in work, but those joining the labour market are earning less than those leaving it.\n\nLife in poverty\n\nIn the US, 37 million people live in poverty (12.7% of the population). \nMany among them, as in the UK, are categorised as ‘working poor’. That is people who, despite the fact that they earn a wage, do not earn enough to take them and their families out of poverty. \n\n1.7 million of the children living in poverty in the UK in 2010 live in working households. \n\n\n
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  • Polsoc week 8 slideshare

    1. 1. Political Sociology Citizenship & Inequality
    2. 2. OverviewClassical ideas of citizenshipWho is left out?Critiquing citizenshipInequality & societal well-beingFeral youth or feral capitalism?Redressing inequality
    3. 3. Classical views of citizenshipIn groups, outlinethe main componentsof: Civil rights Social rights Political rights
    4. 4. Limits of rights-based citizenship? Which groups/ individuals gets left out? Is this always obvious? What about non- citizens?
    5. 5. Critiquing citizenship “We may all be human, but humanity has always excluded, despised and degraded some of its parts. Humanity is notone... Human rights... do not belong to humans; they help us construct who and how one becomes human” Costas Douzinas (2009)
    6. 6. Inequality & societal well-being “[W]hen people in the same social class, at the same level of income or education, are compared across countries, those in more equal societies do better. So, at any given level of personal income or education, someones quality of life will be higher if he or she has the same level of income or education but lives in a more equal society. The conclusion is that greater equality usually makes most difference to the least well off, but still produces some benefits for the well off.” Wilkinson and Pickett (2011)
    7. 7. Austerity & poverty“Overall poverty takes various forms,including: lack of income and productiveresources to ensure sustainablelivelihoods; hunger and malnutrition; illhealth; limited or lack of access toeducation and other basic services;increased morbidity and mortality fromillness; homelessness and inadequatehousing; unsafe environments and socialdiscrimination and exclusion. It is alsocharacterised by lack of participation indecision making and in civil, social andcultural life. It occurs in all countries:as mass poverty in many developingcountries, pockets of poverty amid wealthin developed countries, loss oflivelihoods as a result of economicrecession, sudden poverty as a result ofdisaster or conflict, the poverty of low-wage workers, and the utter destitution ofpeople who fall outside family supportsystems, social institutions and safetynets.” United Nations (1995)
    8. 8. Feral youth or feral capitalism? “The youth are so disillusioned with society that they feel that they have no hope and no future, no love and no respect and so, they have turned inwards and formed their own leadership, disregarding those who should be fighting for their interests, yet have failed them so miserably. We are so quick to condemn these youths but have failed tolook at the underlying factors that have induced such a rapid regression. These youth are not aliens, they are our children!” Merlin Emmanuel (2011)
    9. 9. Redressing inequality Who does poverty and inequality benefit? Is inequality a matter of personal responsibility? What role, if any, should be played by the state? What measures should be taken to alleviate poverty and inequality?