Coordinated by Aurelian GIUGĂL


The European Citizenship: Republican, Multicultural or Hybrid?




Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Romanian Academy




Faculty of Sociology, University of Bucharest


Abstract: Our contribution brings into focus the meaning of the European citizenship. The novelty of our approach is that we tackle this issue backwards.  We argue that in order to delve into the question of the European citizenship one needs to clarify first of all the political meaning of the European Union which is still somewhat abstruse.  After all, citizenship is a contract between an individual and a center of power which unfurls a particular identity. Following an institutional path, our contribution seeks to examine both the institutional meaning of the European Union and the particular identity that has been adopted for the last two decades through specific narratives. Otherwise, without the abovementioned details, it will be impossible to understand the meaning of a European polity. We than argue that a polity is a sine qua non requirement for the emergence of both a republican and a multicultural citizenship.  For without a polity, motivation and responsibility, which are the most important conditions of citizenship in our view, will not appear. A citizenship that is not reliant on motivation and responsibility turns a political actor into an user with a faltering political identity, namely an individual that has no interest in checking the institutional slippages of a center of power and, more importantly, the political ability to organize a vivid civil society.


Keywords: European Union, identity, republican citizenship, deliberative democracy, participative democracy.




This article works from the assumption that there is a salient nexus among identity, citizenship and democracy.  Needless to say, democracies are political regimes whose effectiveness rely massively on the quality of social justice disseminated by its basic institutions toward its citizens. But by the same token, this approach could be reversed so that one could say that the qualities and attitudes of its citizens toward its basic institutions reveal the effectiveness of a democratic regime. Dominique Schnapper, a French sociologist who shares a republican view on the question of citizenship, has espoused this latter perspective[i]. She claims that the quality of a democratic regime depends on the number of the formal citizens this has forged throughout its political existence. Under normal political circumstances, formal citizens are the ones who desire to be part of the political process, hold public institutions responsible for their actions, show self-restraint and commitment regarding a fair distribution of resources, and prove themselves tolerant toward those who are different from themselves. We argue that responsibility and motivation are the most important constituents that propel formal citizens toward most of the political demeanors mentioned above. But in order to work in an effective manner responsibility and motivation need to be nourished by a very important institutional outcome. Philosophers have called it reciprocity. For sociologists, the institutional outcome that supports motivation and responsibility is trust or social capital. Considering that this article is a rather philosophical undertaking, we will focus on the issue of reciprocity, which occurs and develops in the setting of a particular societal culture. For us societal culture is tantamount to identity, which is a modern concept that runs contrary to identification, its postmodern counterpart.

In order to gain the loyalty of its citizens, a democratic regime needs to provide social justice, that is equal opportunity to resources, and respect their dignity. We believe that without resorting to appropriate politics of redistribution and politics of recognition, it will be rather difficult for a state to forge trust in its public institutions. Politics of recognition, which is another name for identity politics, refers to the ability of a state to create an imagined community that encompasses all its citizens irrespective of their religious and ethnic background. An ill-conceived politics of recognition could lose the political adherence of either the dominant ethnicity or the national minorities. We claim that an encompassing identity that brings together all the citizens of a nation-state forges, at least theoretically, ethical obligations among them. Therefore, a collective identity represents a necessary condition for the emergence of reciprocity, which, as we’ve stated earlier, is the main underpinning of responsibility and motivation.




By societal culture, which is a concept coined by the well-known Canadian philosopher Will Kymlicka, we understand the public culture forged by a power center. In modern times, the most salient power center has been the nation-state. Consequently, through societal culture we understand the public or national culture forged and developed by nation states.  In most of his books, Will Kymlicka has brought to the fore only the thin layer of societal culture. From this perspective, namely societal culture understood as thin culture, one can operationalize It as language and social institutions that are responsible for creating a minimum levels of social cohesion.  On the contrary, societal culture understood as thick culture lays emphasis on common religious beliefs, family customs, or personal lifestyles’’[ii]. Kymlicka’s societal culture understood as thin culture clearly resembles Michael Billig’s banal nationalism[iii] which is the public discourse, with its specific symbols and rituals, daily employed by the nation-state in order to forge minimum degrees of social cohesion and create trust and loyalty toward public institutions. Under certain circumstances, such as public celebrations, political turmoil, far-fetched demands disseminated by ethno-political entrepreneurs, sport events that involve national teams and so on, the public routine of banal nationalism may turn itself into hot nationalism. Consequently, a thin societal culture can become under certain circumstances a thick culture. Apart from thin culture that can turn itself into thick culture, another aspect that Kymlicka hasn’t mentioned in his well-known philosophical writings is an institutional one. For a low-capacity state[iv] is very difficult to stabilize identities considering its underdeveloped infrastructural capacity[v] and the low levels of civility shared by its political elites. Low-capacity states, which are around one century old and emerged on the outskirts of empires, have ever had troubles in stabilizing identities. What is characteristic to low-capacity states is a rather diluted civil society, low levels of social capital and a submissive political culture shared by most of its citizens.  Therefore, low-capacity states have always had problems in forging trust in public institutions. In order to offset the bad quality of its public services, a low-capacity state and its elites have always used a thick culture in order to legitimize themselves. Subsequently, the societal culture of national minorities have never been on the par with the societal culture of dominant ethnicities. In other words, transforming a thick culture into a thin one is almost an impossible task for a low-capacity state.

As we’ve mentioned before, every societal culture has had the role to create minimum levels of social cohesion. In other words, every societal culture creates a feeling of belonging to a political community that has a wider range than the natural ones, such as primary social groups.  And this is where the question of identity comes into play. 

For classic sociologists, like Weber or Simmel, the issue of identity didn’t arrive onto their intellectual agenda, which, at least at a shallow glance, is a little bit puzzling considering that nowadays identity is ‘the loudest talk in town’. At a closer look though, the explanation for such a lack of preoccupation regarding identity issues is hardly surprising, argues Zygmunt Baumann[vi]. A couple of decades ago, when Fordist capitalism was still the prevalent economic and cultural model, national identities seemed to be written in stone, and although other identity variants, such as regional or civilizational ones, were subject to intellectual debate, they were of very little concern to most of the citizens of the civilized world, i.e. nations forged and constantly reproduced by stable modern states. But once a new capitalist model emerged, namely post-Fordism or the flexible accumulation pattern, as David Harvey[vii] labels it, nation-states started withering away from a political perspective and the identity securityprovided by national identities, which had seemed to be natural closed communities that far, has constantly eroded ever since. To put it in a nutshell, post-Fordism sidelined the Leviathan represented by the nation-state with another Leviathan, this time a volatile one, which really transformed what apparently were solid societies into liquid ones. Neoliberalism and the flexible accumulation pattern that it triggered in the late ’70s bred the new Leviathan, namely the market. When the nation-state position, as the most prominent supplier of identity in modern times, has been challenged by its new competitor, that is the market, the question of belonging made it to the fore once again. Especially for national minorities and immigrants, but also for some locals who hadn’t become full formal citizens of their nation-states, the issue of belonging surged up.  One becomes aware that ‘belonging’ and ‘identity’ are not cut in rock, that they are not secured by a lifelong guarantee, that they are eminently negotiable and revocable’’[viii]. This revocable part of identity, that Baumann and, in general, most postmodern thinkers dwell upon,  is, we claim, not that revocable. One thing that social constructivists have failed so far to understand is that once an identity formula has been institutionalized its specific practices and values cannot be erased in a blink of an eye. The social residues left by religious, ethnic and national identities cannot be swiftly supplanted by identity models of a different range and with a completely changed doctrinaire texture.And still we concur with postmodern thinkers who emphasis the importance of agency in choosing between different identities and, therefore, with an approach that stresses the importance of identification instead of identity. For dominant ethnicities the issue of identification probably doesn’t seem so urgent as for national minorities and immigrants, since the social and identity anchors provided by the nation-state may look stable. But for the others, as long as these anchors have been subject to contestation, finding another community to belong to,a community different from the national one, might become an urgent task.




The emergence of market as the new Leviathan brought the question of citizenship into the limelight. Of course, this story of the market as the new Leviathan needs to be addressed carefully considering that nation-states continue to be the most important political units in the realm of international relations. But in the academic discourse at least, which is dominated nowadays by Marxist and (neo)-liberal thinkers, nation-state seems has clearly lost its steam. But as we’ve said earlier, this dwindling process of nation-state, and subsequently of national identities as suppliers of identity security in modern times, has brought to the fore the issue of citizenship.Intellectuals, in general, have understood that market forces alone and their subsequent individualism are inappropriate social ingredients to hold a society together. Therefore, the question of citizenship, but especially the alleged ethical force of citizenship, has become the subject of a heated intellectual debate.

Whilst some political philosophers set out to explore the question of citizenship, in order to extract its ethics and, subsequently, its binding abilities, other political philosophers started a foray into the question of societal culture. Among the latter ones, Will Kymlicka[ix] stands out. Kymlicka contends that two of the most prominent liberal values, namely liberty, understood as autonomy, and equality, understood as equality of opportunity in the institutional setting created by a nation-state, are massively reliant on societal culture. Approached from a liberal perspective, societal culture, which is tantamount to the public culture forged by a nation-state, is stripped of its ethnic dimension by Kymlicka. Therefore, the Canadian philosopher treats societal culture as a thin culture, that is a culture whose only binding abilities are a common language and public institutions. The conclusion that we draw from Kymlicka’sis that societal culture simultaneously forges a liberal national identity and supplants a preponderantly ethnic national identity with a liberal one.

From a liberal perspective, citizenship is a set of rights enjoyed in an equal manner by all members of a certain nation. The liberal view on citizenship is based on T. H. Marshall’s writings. The above mentioned rights fall, according to Marshall, in three categories: civil rights, political rights and social rights. Civil rights comprise the right of free speech and property rights, whilst political rights are about the right to vote and to run for public offices. In a nutshell, social rights refer to welfare. T. H. Marshall wrote about citizenship in Great Britain in the ‘50s. At a time when the Cold War had just started, in a relatively homogenous Great Britain the issue of loyalty to the nation-state was of little concern. Citizenship requires a bond of a different kind, a direct sense of community membership based on loyalty to a civilization which is a common possession’’[x]. Community membership, loyalty, common possession were practices and social facts which are pretty easy to achieve in a relatively homogenous  Great Britain. But thirty years later, in a Great Britain characterized by prominent pluralism, such attitudes and social facts prove to be difficult to attain. And this is where T. H. Marshall’s view on liberal citizenship runs into difficulties. The answer to a what seemed to be a insuperable problem is offered by John Rawls in his well-known book A Theory of Justice.

For younger Rawls’’, just to use a trope that is fashionable nowadays, justice, viewed as a set of principles, could be supported by rational individuals whose objective is social cooperation. In the early pages of his famous A Theory of Justice, Rawls doesn’t detail the political status of those rational individuals, who allegedly can endorse social cooperation. Later on he stresses the fact that principles of justice are conceived for people who are citizens of democratic states and, quite importantly, think of themselves as citizens. The latter mention that we’ve made may seem of no value to citizens of stable democracies. But in some parts of the world, where low-administrative states haven’t managed yet to fully stabilize societies and, subsequently, to forge full formal citizens, this detail is of great importance. For most of the citizens continue to describe themselves as simple-citizens’’ in societies where the dominant political culture is not civic, but rather a submissive one. Under such circumstances, where social practices and values of citizenship haven’t been effectively institutionalized, most of the people tend to depict themselves as second-class citizens. But this apart, what we’ve tried to highlight regarding Rawls, is that older Rawls’’ has a penchant for the language of citizenship, whereas in his early writings he used to bring to the fore only the idea of persons. The biggest difference between an abstract idea of ‘’rational individual’’ and an individual seen as a citizen lies in the fact that the latter one has been more or less effectively shaped by the societal culture of a particular state, whilst in the case the former his/her contact with a public culture is not so clear. Now, that this difference has been brought up, the question of justice, viewed by Rawls as a set of principles that can be endorsed by rational individuals who seek social cooperation, alters significantly. When the principles of social justice are supported by individuals, who had already been shaped by a certain societal culture, justice becomes culturally determined by what T. H. Marhall labeled community membership’’, when he defined liberal citizenship. What is the propeller of this ‘’community membership’’?  A societal culture’’, argues Kymlicka who, as any liberal thinker, would stress the thin dimension of such a culture. A public culture’’, says David Miller, who also lays emphasis on the civic component. The idea of state’’, contends Barry Buzan, who also tends to pay more attention to the thin component to the detriment of the thick one.

John Rawls[xi] comes up with a slightly different answer regarding the issue of community membership’’. For Rawls, members of liberal democracies have a double identity, each one with its specific conception of the good. The first layer of the double identity mentioned by Rawls concerns private life, an area where individuals have a specific ethnic belonging and share different tastes and religious beliefs.The second layer of this double identity refers to the public realm, where individuals with different ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs are expected to act as citizens. The question is if, and how, the private and public conceptions of the good can be reconciled.  Or, to put it another way, is there a common denominator of the double identity shared by members of liberal democracies? Rawls doesn’t offer a straight answer to these questions. He rather displays a wishful thinking piece of reasoning. In their capacity of citizens, people will be able to reach an agreement about the meaning of social justice by allowing their public identities to take precedence over personal identities. Rawls’s cerebral view of citizenship is striking. Mostly because he doesn’t delves into the learning process, and simultaneously on the institutionalization of this learning process, that turn people into defenders of a public good, at times to the detriment of their personal good. In other words, the one pivotal variable that really turns people into citizens so that a public good could, under certain circumstances, take precedence over a private good, is the state.




The focus of this section will be to describe different types of citizenship so that one can choose the most appropriate pattern for the European citizenship. Probably the most well-known conception of libertarian citizenship belongs to Robert Nozick[xii]. The question of societal culture, which is of pivotal importance for other philosophers with respect to the question of justice, is left aside by Robert Nozick who starts from a different premise when he delves into the meaning of citizenship. According to Nozick, what turns people into citizens is their need for public goods. From this perspective, the state is nothing more than a giant enterprise and the citizen is just a consumer. Nozick’s perspective runs into different troubles. First of all, access to public goods is massively reliant on market-determined incomes. Consequently, the social dimension of citizenship is entirely lost as long as there are no entitlements that aim at balancing inequalities created by the market, and the public/private distinction is of almost no importance. The other difficulty that Nozick’s conception of citizenship runs into is related to those public good that the market fails to provide, such as a way of life with a certain cultural content: tolerant, non-violent, concerned about the environment etc. Such a way of life needs to be publicly endorsed by the state. In a nutshell, libertarian citizenship is about customers who have the right to contract into a community of their like, with the function to provide goods as the only social cement of a community.

We now turns to liberal citizenship. According to Rawls and his well-known conception of justice, people, in their capacity of citizens, will be able to endorse a conception of the good that might contradict their tastes and preferences as private persons. But what is going to happen to those citizens whose personal identities are encumbered by the public conception of the good. What is Rawls’s answer on this matter?  Rawls’s answer is not a straight one. It is rather a strategy. Rawls retreats to a pragmatic defence of liberal institutions. It is a modus vivendi strategy according to whom the best way to avoid an open conflict is to adopt liberal institutions. Not surprisingly, liberal institutions will not suit the cultural needs of every ethnic or religious group. But what liberal institutions offer to ethnic and religious groups which are not accustomed to a Western way of life is a political setting where they can follow, at least partly, their conception of the good life. Kymlicka is not convinced by the effectiveness of this very pragmatic view. Instead, he argues that each group should be allowed to deal with its cultural matters as long as group rights don’t take precedence over individual rights. There is also a second strategy that Rawls embraces. In this second case, altough it is admitted that liberalism is a morally contestable way of life, it is worth defending it from a political perspective. It breeds a benign pluralism in which everyone will treat their conception of good life in private.  The problem with this type of the strategy, the strategy of militant liberalism, is that it is tantamount to declaring war on those groups who are not prepared to accommodate themselves to the liberal understanding of citizenship’’[xiii].

Of course, republican citizenship is also about a set that is to be respected by someone who thinks and behaves in a certain manner. Republican citizenship doesn’t fare better in a multicultural milieu than its liberal counterpart. Every demand can be put forward in the political forum as long as it respects the general political ethos of the community. Therefore, if immigrant groups or national minorities claim that only a full recognition of their demands means to respect their identity, such a political request sharply contrasts republican citizenship. Regarding the public/private distinction, this emerges from public deliberation, meaning that matters agreed upon are sent to the private sphere. The main difference between republican and liberal citizenship lies in the fact that defenders of the former claim that a minimum involvement in the public debate should be part of every citizen’s conception of the good. The reason behind such an argument is that there’s a fare chance for some citizens, the ones that have no interest to engage in the public debate, to perceive public policies as completely alien. Republican thinkers allow that, although politics is part of the public good, peoples’ participation at public debated will differ significantly, depending on their personal values.The contrast between republicanism and liberalism is not that liberal recognizes the value of entrenched rights whereas the republican does not, but that the liberal regards these rights as having a pre-political justification while the republican ground them in public discussion’’[xiv].The institutional aftermath is that liberals completely subject the matter of rights to the judiciary, whilst republicans continuously stress the importance of making the question of rights a matter of public debate. Consequently, as a result of everyday politics understood as everyday political debate, constitution is more open to amendments, and, therefore, republican citizenship seem to be more suitable to the political debates specific to a plural milieu. 

At a shallow look, there is hardly a difference between liberal and republican citizenship, considering that they are both political contracts which offer equal access to political rights, and their subsequent obligations, to people who happen to be citizens of a political community. On a closer examination though, some consistent differences may arise, and the source of these differences is public virtue. As we’ve already mentioned, liberal citizenship refers to rights that are enjoyed equally by citizens of a certain state. Republican citizenship is also about rights equally enjoyed by the citizens of a state. And yet there are two characteristics of republican citizenship that liberal citizenship doesn’t share. And this is where the concept of public virtue comes into play. Republicanism has always required an active political behavior. From this perspective, citizens are expected to defend the rights of other members of a political community and also to know and promote the common interests of a political community. Liberal citizenship has no such pretension. In other words, citizen is expected to be ready to volunteer for public service, argue the defenders of republican citizenship. This is a residue of the old republican perspective, according to whom republics should be defended by citizens instead of mercenaries. Another aspect where republican citizenship sharply contrasts with its liberal counterpart, concerns the political arena. Republican citizens should play an active role in both private and public sphere, considering that this is the most effective manner in which someone expresses its commitment to the community. To sum it up, two attitudes lie at the very heart of republican citizenship, that is motivation and responsibility. But in order to act as motivated and responsible citizens, people need a third constituent, namely reciprocity. For without reciprocity, the republican citizen will have no assurance that his/her fellow-citizens are going to act in a similar manner. Patriotism and common nationality used to be the main propellers of reciprocity in city-states and modern nations. Under those political circumstances, political citizenship used to be a bounded political status. For to give citizenship to anyone was a certain way to undermine the conditions of trust and assurance that used to guarantee a responsible citizenship. Therefore, republican citizenship asks for a shared political culture, which is tantamount to admit that a purely political citizenship is not possible. It has to be supported by a minimum allegiance to a political community.


4.1 A European identity?


We’ve start from the premise that European identity is not given or predefined, but should be understood as a process. Therefore, our primary concern is to bring to the fore the mechanisms that reproduce the social process called European identity. Every collective identity, namely the story used by a power center to legitimize itself, has always had two dimensions: an inward looking one and an outward looking one. Regarding the inward looking dimension of the European Union, we’ve come to the conclusion that it is rather underdeveloped, which is hardly surprising. The absence of a European homeland, civilizational myths and heroes, and, last but not least, of a European memory are the reasons why a European consciousness hasn’t emerged yet. Nietzsche said once that it is more important what nations forget than what they remember. Maybe this is the main motif that can explain why European consciousness is very diluted, considering that the memory of both World Wars, as the climax of a European enmity’’ between European nations, is still vivid. Moreover, there is no doubt that national histories of, let’s say, France, Great Britain or Germany are still more glorious than the history of the European Union, which as a political actor hasn’t written too much history so far. Because the national histories are more glorious that the European history, citizens continue to be more loyal to their nation-states, which still produce strong political attachments and pride. We argue that the most important setback regarding a European identity stems from a still unfathomable political meaning of the European Union.  Politics, according to Aristotle, is about making things in common. Therefore, politics is about building together a common future. Because it still lacks a coherent political definition, the European Union is pretty difficult to grasp regarding the things that European citizens make in common. It is doubtful that a European Union that cannot give up on austerity measures, mainly due to political reasons that are meant to preserve a strong social and economic inequality between West and East, will be able to forge a common future for its citizens.

We now turn to the outward looking dimension of the European identity. This particular layer of the European identity has a much better contour, considering that many EU states, especially the ones with a colonial background, are pretty experienced in the so-called Othering process’’. From this perspective, the European Union has a salient internal otherness, namely those Eastern countries – Romania and Bulgaria – that are still waiting to join the Schengen Area. Simultaneously, the European Union has an intermediary Otherness which includes Turkey and those little Eurasian states that are members of the Eastern Partnership.  The question is if the European Union has an absolute otherness. Apparently, the Russian Federation, especially after the Ukrainian crises, seems to play the role of an absolute otherness for the European Union. And yet there are many cultural and civilizational traits shared together by the Russian Federation and the European Union than, for instance, cultural similarities between China and the European Union. For the moment, what undoubtedly plays the role of an absolute otherness for the European Union is the national history of the continent, a national history dominated by religious and national wars. A post-national European Union seeks to forge a constitutional patriotism as the main source of loyalty towards European institutions and simultaneously as a social cement between European citizens. Unfortunately, this ethnic and national history of the continent is embodied nowadays by immigrants coming from Central and Eastern Europe, but also from South Asia or North Africa. The question is how a European citizenship is going to accommodate immigrants, who are still anchored in a thick culture, with the constitutional patriotism disseminated by the European Union?  For the moment, the European Union is a paradoxical imagined community. What makes the European Union a paradoxical imagined community is that its absolute otherness – immigrants coming from either Central and Eastern Europe or South Asia and North Africa –finds itself entrenched in most of the so-called Eurocities, namely Berlin, London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels etc. Nation-states have usually had their absolute otherness outside their political borders. And this takes us to another aspect of the European identity. The European Union, being involved in a continuous enlargement process, doesn’t have clear cut political boundaries. In this regard, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is of little help. On the contrary, it makes confusion even bigger, considering that it hosts 55 states that stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

As we’ve said, what makes European identity particularly difficult to pin-down is mainly the still diffuse political meaning of the European Union. Using either postmodern perspectives, such as the European Union understood as governmentality, political field of public sphere, or institutional approaches like neo-realism or neo-functionalism, the political sense of the European Union proves difficult to grasp. Quite plain is the fact that European Union is a power center that really needs to make its institutional foundations sacred. But exactly as nation-states used to be involved in a political process of withering away the sacred character of the church, nowadays European Union is apparently involved in a similar political process. In order to make its political basis sacred, the European Union needs firstly to dilute the sacred character of its nation-states. Thomas Risse argues that the EU’s Copenhagen criteriahave been used in order to forge a sacred political basis for the European Union. Democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and the market economy are considered superior to other political, economic, and social orders and they are constitutive for the EU’’[xv]. The conclusion that one can easily draw regarding the issue of European identity is that it should be understood as a social progress that is in the making as we speak. Therefore, identification, instead of identity, might be a more fruitful way to tackle the question of European identity. But, undoubtedly, if there is an European societal culture this is so diluted that is nowhere next to Kymlicka’s liberal perspective on societal culture: a common language and public institutions.


4.2 Europeans. Individuals or citizens?


For Pierre Manent, a well-known French philosopher, the meaning of European Union continues to be somewhat abstruse. Manent is not interested in a political definition of the European Union. The odds of European Union to becoming a democracy is rather of primary concern for Manent. At the heart of every democratic regime lies a duality that cannot be overcome, contends Manent.


Democracy is the guarantee of the protection of individual rights; and so of personal autonomy, yet is also the ordering of self-government, and so of collective autonomy. The two aspects are not separable, but are distinct. In the language of contemporary political philosophy, the first aspect concerns the individual, the second concerns the citizen’’[xvi].


It is an undeniable fact, claims Manent, that what explains the huge popularity of the European Union is that this still diffuse political institution greatly expands on the rights of the individual. Unsurprisingly, continues Manent, this extension of individual rights strongly supported by the European Union is detrimental to the rights of the citizen. What’s the explanation behind this line of reasoning? Basically, Manent espouses a republican perspective on citizenship, one that requires every individual to be involved in the public debate at least to a minimum extent. Without such a minimum involvement not only that political decisions will be alien to politically impervious citizens, but a democratic regime will also be stripped of one of its most valuable traits, namely the motivation and responsibility  of some of its citizens. Of great concern to Pierre Manent is that decisions reached by the European Commission might completely disregard what had already been decided at a national level through public debate. In other words, national governments that need to grapple with political decisions reached in Brussels are in this manner forced to take into consideration the wills and desires of democratically elected government of other EU countries. Such decisions might be completely alien to citizens of some EU countries, and this is how a supra-national mechanism of taking political decisions can backfire. The ‘construction of Europe’ thus involves a continual diminution of the feeling of civic responsibility’’[xvii]. Democratic regimes have faced the daunting task of getting their citizens involved in public debates, especially in a time of crisis. When this institutional effort failed, people felt misrepresented because of very low levels of linking social capital, that is low levels of trust in the government and other public institutions. Under those circumstances, a strong feeling of political alienation arose. Such a perilous feeling to the health of a democratic regime, might arise steadily, claims Manent, considering that national governments need to take into account a diffuse European opinion’’ that has not been subject to a European civic debate. According to Manent, a European Union that steadily endorses the rights of individuals to the detriment of the rights of citizens, will end up like a European civilization with no political body and a minimum to none political responsibility of its individuals. It will be very difficult to turn such a European civilization into a European democracy, concludes Manent.


Can human beings live fully without belonging to a body politic that claims their allegiance? Can they live only as economic and moral agents, free and mobile in a space of civilization? Whatever the answer to these questions, the ‘construction of Europe’ has rested on this ambiguity, which has not been formulated nor understood between Europe as civilization and Europe as body politic’’[xviii].

Citing Aristotle, Manent claims that politics is about citizens who make things in common. In other words, citizens are expected to act and deliberate together. The European Union, allows Manent, continues to create supra-national institutions, but it has failed so far to provide its citizens with a common goal as the necessary underpinning of the institutions it creates. Differently put, it has not been clear to European citizens so far what do they put in common.




Judith Squires argues that both liberal and republican citizenship have dealt poorly with minority rights and the question of difference. There is no universal model of citizenship, continues Squires, who then claims that liberal and republican citizenship have been falsely universalistic[xix]. Whilst the liberal citizenship transcends particularity, the republican version of citizenship suppresses it. Therefore, current attempts have sought to define a more inclusive version of citizenship, one that does not reject universalism per se, but tries to get rid of the false universalism of the traditional notion of citizenship. To this aim, a so called differentiated citizenship has emerged, a version which links identity and citizenship. In the first line of inquiry, it is highlighed the importance of culture for autonomy and a responsible citizenship. For without culture and cultural structures citizens will not be able to make meaningful choices. This type of citizenship, the differentiated citizenship, presses for political and cultural rights for national minorities and groups of immigrants. Differentiated citizenship starts from the premise that only in the milieu of their particular culture, national minorities and immigrants will fully capitalize on their individual rights. The other line of inquiry that supports differentiated citizenship, brings to the fore the issue of authenticity. Whilst autonomy requires cultural structures, authenticity asks for dialogical interaction. Taylor says that the discovery of one’s true identity is not a monological process. On the contrary, authenticity needs to be negotiated with others. From this perspective, citizenship needs universal recognition so that the human need for authenticity will be universally fulfilled. Beside autonomy and authenticity, a third line of inquiry stresses the importance of transgressing political boundaries. From this perspective, politics is about questioning group loyalties and collective identities. A concept of citizenship that has at its very heart diversity politics steadily challenges governmental institutions, the territorial state and reified political boundaries. Such a concept of citizenship has nothing in common with a territorially citizenship and aims at creating a universal loyalties. But every pattern of citizenship needs a political support in order to entry into force. For a differentiated citizenship propelled by diversity politics such an institutional model doesn’t exist. Therefore, concludes Judith Squires, a differentiated citizenship will oscillate between impartiality and identity politics.

The conclusion of our contribution is that at the heart of a citizenship lies the question of societal culture or, to put it differently, identity. As long as the European identity or societal culture continues to be rather diffuse, what brings together the European citizens and what turns them into motivated and responsible citizens has not been clarified. Therefore, European civilization has taken precedence so far over European Union, and European individuals over European citizens.

What seems to suit best the postmodern political contour of European Union is a differentiated citizenship. It remains to be seen what is going to lie at the heart of this pattern of citizenship - autonomy, authenticity the transgression of political boundaries -, but most importantly what kind of political regime will get on well with a differentiated citizenship.



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SCHŐPFLIN, George, Politics, Illusions, Fallacies, Talin, TLU Press, 2012.


[i] Dominique SCHNAPPER, Community of Citizens. On the Modern Idea of Nationality, Transaction Publishers, London, 1998.

[ii] Will KYMLICKA, Politics in the Vernacular. Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, p. 25.

[iii] Michael BILLIG, Banal Nationalism, SAGE Publications Ltd., London, 2010.

[iv] George SCHŐPFLIN, The Dilemmas of Identity, Talin, TLU Press, 2010;

[v] Verena FRITZ, State-Building. A Comparative Study of Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia, CEU Press, Budapest, 2007.

[vi] Zygmunt BAUMAN, Identity, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004.

[vii] David HARVEY, The Condition of Postmodernity. An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Blackwell Publishers Inc., Oxford, 2000.

[viii] Zygmunt BAUMAN, Identity, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004, p. 11.

[ix] Will KYMLICKA, The Multicultural Citizenship. A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004.

[x] David MILLER, Citizenship and National Identity, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 44.

[xi] John RAWLS, A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 2005.

[xii] Robert NOZICK, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Basic Books, New York, 2013.

[xiii] David MILLER, Citizenship and National Identity, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 49.

[xiv] Ibidem, p. 60.

[xv] Thomas RISSE, A Community of Europeans? Transnational Identities and Public Spheres, Cornell University Press, London, 2010, p. 28.

[xvi] Pierre MANENT, A World Beyond Politics? A Defense of the Nation-State, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2006, p. 61.

[xvii] Ibidem, p. 62.

[xviii] Ibidem, p. 63.

[xix] Paul KELLY (ed.), Multiculturalism Reconsidered, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2002.