This chapter begins with consideration of the growing interest in citizenship studies, focusing on T.H. Marshall’s influence. It proceeds to a discussion of two aspects of policy and practice which are of concern for this book. The first is to understand the different forms that active citizenship takes or that are promoted. The second is to address the tendency to bestow a normative gloss on active citizenship and judge the active citizen to be more virtuous than the ‘passive’ or ‘apathetic’ citizen. While there are many different ways of distinguishing between varying configurations of active citizenship, the distinction between active citizenship based on rights or obligations provides a preliminary framework for understanding how people practise citizenship in the contemporary period. The final section of the chapter discusses some of the difficulties in the normative understandings of active citizenship, illustrating with a discussion of the active citizenship manifested in humanitarian aid.
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