Towards a post-citizenship society? A report from the front

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Modern citizenship has been characterized by three essential features: membership in a political community that transcends all other memberships a person might have, and that entails some degree of mutual responsibility between all members; a certain level of equality of rights guaranteed to all who are considered citizens; and an executive limited by the rule of law. In recent years, the combination of neo-liberal economic policies, which have seriously undermined social rights, and the global "war on terror", which has tarnished the protection of civil and political rights, may be leading towards a post-citizenship society in Western liberal democracies. To illustrate this argument this paper examines the case of Israel, traditionally considered a strong state, with a robust form of citizenship based on an ethno-republican discourse. While a Jewish state by self-definition, and therefore not a liberal democracy, Israel respected the citizenship rights of its Jewish citizens, and since 1966 of its Palestinian citizens as well, although not to the same degree. However, since the mid-1980s economic liberalization has resulted in the decline of the institutions safeguarding social rights and the liberal high court has failed to protect them. With the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, the civil rights of the Palestinian citizens began to be encroached upon, and pressure has been building on their political rights as well. Finally, the state's shirking of its responsibility for social rights reached a crisis proportion with its utter failure to care for the needs of the residents of northern Israel during the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2007


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