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Article Summary

Turner, Bryan S. 1990. Outline of the Theory of Citizenship, Sociology 24(2) (May): 189-217.

Bryan Turner critiques T.H. Marshalls conceptual framework of citizenship and offers his own concept, both in response to common critiques of Marshalls framework and in recognition of the change from a national to global perspective.

T.H. Marshall argued that there are three basic manifestations of citizenship - the civil, the political, and the social. He stated that 18th Century Britain saw the development of the civil rights of individuals; the 19th Century saw the development of political rights in the increased access of workers to the parliamentary process; and the 20th Century saw the development of social rights, which became the basis of claims to welfare and entitlements. Marshall further argued that a contradiction exists between formalized political equality, and ongoing social/economic equality, rooted in capitalist society and the existence of private property.

Turner summarizes the many critiques of Marshalls concept, but ultimately criticizes him most strongly for his anglocentric analysis, which explores the concept of citizenship solely as it developed within the British experience. Marshalls concept of the capitalist state fits uneasily into todays notion of global capitalism, or disorganized capitalism (p. 195), in which the state has less control. A more thorough analysis of the development of citizenship across various nations can lead to the recognition that several forms of citizenship exist.

Turner ends his analysis by commenting on globalization and changing concepts of citizenship. He mentions both an increasing regional autonomy and localism, and the move toward global notions of political responsibility. We must develop a new conceptual framework in order to express new ideas of citizenship in the global world. The concept of citizenship can also be further investigated as it has evolved in ethnically complex countries and in developing countries.