Social Citizenship Discourses: Fusing Obligations with Rights in European Welfare States

Felicity Atieno Okoth


Social citizenship as conceptualized by T.H Marshall has been at the core of discussions that focus on social rights in Europe. These rights are enshrined in the welfare structures of most states as seen in the provision of health services, education, and housing, and in some cases allowances to citizens. Rising waves of immigration over the years has consequently seen the extension of these rights to immigrants. The current rising popularity of new right ideologies has however resulted in a shift of public discourse with the identification of certain immigrant groups as disproportionately favored by social provision. This has led to pressure from the public to restrict immigration. On a scholarly level, Marshall’s social citizenship model has been criticized for ignoring responsibilities that constitute active citizenship. This has resulted in new right models that stress on obligations at the expense of social rights. Through a theoretical discussion of Marshall’s social citizenship; Mead’s new right model and drawing from examples from different immigrant groups and welfare states in Europe, I argue that it is possible to fuse labor market participation to social citizenship without infringing on the rights this kind of citizenship purposes to uphold. I further argue that there is need to open up the labor and narrow down obligations to the immediate community as a national community is too large and remote to command reciprocity. I conclude that respect, recognition and positive selectivism combined with guaranteed social rights could be a step towards balanced model of social citizenship.

Keywords: Social Citizenship, Immigration, Welfare States

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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