Crafting Citizenship: Negotiating Tensions in Modern Society by Menno Hurenkamp;Evelien Tonkens;Jan Willem Duyvendak

By Menno Hurenkamp;Evelien Tonkens;Jan Willem Duyvendak

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Straight talk and distance from the murkier parts of decision-making are the solution and this resolution is in the hands of politicians, not of citizens. 44 Crafting Citizenship Once the message is clear and the process is just, citizens will follow again. The second response from politics and policy-makers to consumerism is to put citizens in more responsible roles: to set up practices that demand responsibility rather than consumerism. Policy interventions since the 1980s have focused on pushing back citizens’ claims of rights.

Of interest here is the discrepancy between Dutch citizens’ reported satisfaction with their own lives and dissatisfaction with society at large (SCP 2009b: 29). More than 90 percent of Dutch citizens feel that their fellow citizens are egocentric. The leading social concern is safety, followed by concern for society (solidarity, tolerance, understanding, and discrimination), immigration and integration standards, and then other values (such as decency and selfishness). Some 72 percent of Dutch citizens feel that their compatriots are less and less respectful of one another (SCP 2009b: 34).

Citizenship has rarely been invoked to argue that people should become freer and think more critically, or that the discussion of differences may be the most viable solution to the problems of living together. In our imagined community, we work with an understanding of citizenship to discipline people rather than to set them free, to organize them rather than to emancipate them, to have them listen rather than to have them speak. ‘Active’ citizens are to relieve government of trouble rather than cause more trouble.

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