October 06, 2016

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Tie welfare benefits to work responsibilities

Along with the recognition of cultural context for formulation of citizens’ rights, the republican ideals of civic virtue and good citizenship have also revitalised the ideal of good citizenship. Defined by civic culture as well as civic virtue, patriotic spirit and participatory citizenship have come into existence in classical antiquity, and been revived as an ideal in Renaissance Italy, 18th century America and France. From the late 18th century, the civic republican tradition gave way to liberalism. The revitalisation of civic republicanism or neo-republicanism has emerged in the non-liberal as well as liberal articulations of citizenship, taking various guises depending upon specific ideological tradition in which it is placed.
Broadly identified, notions of active citizenship conform to the distinction between civil society and the political arena which individuals enter to articulate their purely private concerns. On the other hand, political society is generated whenever individuals communicate not their purely private concerns but rather matters of shared importance to influence or make demands on the state.
According to Walzer, citizenship provides a common binding principle. Citizenship as a binding principle makes itself manifest in civil society – the setting of settings (Walzer 1989), which provides the space where individuals as part of diverse social groups are trained in civility and self-restraint. Walzer places faith in the idea of critical associationalism, which is based on the belief that in this age, the density of associational life and the activities and understanding that go with it need to be recaptured and relearnt, and proposes that participation in voluntary organizations of the civil society – churches, families, ethnic associations, voluntary groups, schools – inculcate the civic virtues that bind citizens in mutual obligation.
Another strand is different from civil society theorists. According to Martial’s argument, the politics of rights should be replaced with the politics of common good. Working within a framework of common good and common obligation of all citizens, they argue for a workforce programme instead of a welfare programme, cutting back the safety net of the poor, and tying welfare benefits to work responsibilities.


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