Citizenship in our Time: Community Service, Town Meeting, Protest March, or Drag Show
How is citizenship properly enacted in the contemporary era? How are contemporary discourses of citizenship constructing and reconstructing our meanings of the terms of citizenship? To answer these questions, I have recently surveyed the massive literature on citizenship research, identifying key discourses of citizenship circulating in Western, English-speaking countries (Knight Abowitz & Harnish 2000). In this paper, I investigate how Enlightenment-born conceptions of citizenship burden us with dated understandings of political life. By way of response, I construct a notion of citizenship that owes great debt to critical, feminist, and postmodern critiques of Enlightenment-based citizenship which explores the boundaries of membership, employs notions of intersubjective agency, utilizes the unrecognized power of the aesthetic and performative dimensions of civic life, and reminds us of the importance of civil society as a significant context for the pursuit of democratic life.
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