Cultural Citizenship Essay

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The idea of cultural citizenship has emerged through three main phases of debate. Firstly there was an attempt to extend the categories of citizenship to include questions of culture. Here there was a retracing of the debates on citizenship that was largely concerned with questions of rights and duties in the context of national societies to include issues related to culture. This work owed a great deal to attempts to link sociology and cultural studies found in the work of Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, and others. According to Bryan Turner (2001) this debate was explicitly concerned with the participation of citizens within an explicitly national culture.

During phase one of the cultural citizenship debate issues related to the commodification of culture, access to the relevant cultural capital and the decline in cultural authority of the traditional arts dominated. Cultural citizenship was crucially a normative category that aimed to develop the conditions for a popular participatory democracy and a culturally inclusive society. However, the contours of this debate began to change through a greater recognition of the cultural pluralization of western democracies that had accompanied increasingly global societies. That cultures were no longer rooted to the spot in an age of virtuality, mass tourism, hybridity, migration and immigration, and other cultural mobilities became increasingly apparent. Notably Pakulski (1997) argued that from children to the disabled and from ethnic communities to diverse sexualities there were new demands being made for representation without normalizing distortion. If the previous set of debates was concerned with questions of participation and the distribution of cultural resources the second phase of the debate was more explicitly focused on issues related to cultural recognition. Finally, there are now signs that the debate on cultizenship could be entering into a third phase beyond questions related to identity to include the recent neoliberal assault on cultural practices more generally.


  1. Miller, T. (2007) Cultural Citizenship. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
  2. Pakulski, J. (1997)  Cultural citizenship. Citizenship Studies 1 (1): 73-86.
  3. Turner, B. S. (2001) Outline of a general theory of cultural citizenship. In: Stevenson, N. (ed.), Culture and Citizenship. Sage, London, pp. 11-32.
  4. Stevenson, N. (2003) Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan [Questions, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

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