We can define active citizenship as full engagement in a community – this includes the right to actively participate in community life and ensure equal status of all individuals and groups. It implies interdependence of rights and duties, as well as powers and restrictions. Active citizenship means people are getting involved in their communities and are participating in democracy at all levels, from local to national and global. They organize civic initiatives – events, polls, simulations, campaigns, anything that gets people engaged. Can any citizen action be considered good for a society? History shows us how some actions can lead to or be part of undemocratic activities that can harm certain social groups. Instead, participation goes hand in hand with democratic values, mutual respect, non-violence and human rights.
Why is active citizenship important for democracy? Earlier in history the meaning of active citizenship was narrower than it is today. It referred to members of middle or higher society, stratum or class, to which access was conditioned or restricted by status or rights. The road to wider and democratic meaning of citizenship was marked by revolutions and persistent struggles in various areas led by the idea of spreading the general principles of equality and freedom. This was only achieved in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the second half of the 20th century, civil society organisations became one of the main links between citizenship and democracy.
Interested in finding out more? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to watch a webinar on Active Citizenship given in 2022.