In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Global Citizenship

  • Introduction

International Relations Global Citizenship
Hans Schattle
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 February 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0210


The academic literature on global citizenship in the context of international relations can be subdivided into three major categories: (1) literature that defines, unpacks, and explores the specific concept of global citizenship from various historical, theoretical, and empirical perspectives; (2) literature on the broader concept of citizenship, particularly contributions that examine and debate, often with healthy doses of skepticism, prospects for an international dimension of citizenship and the implications of globalization for citizenship; (3) literature on the varied ethical, cultural, and institutional approaches to cosmopolitanism, seeking to clarify moral obligations and collaborative mechanisms aimed at upholding the fundamental dignity and promoting the well-being of all human persons. All three of these lines of inquiry within the literature have been developing rapidly since the 1990s and are preoccupied with the ways in which worldwide economic interdependence and increasing transnational social and cultural interconnectedness have led to problems, risks, and opportunities that transcend national and state borders. No bibliography on a subject as multifaceted, contested, and continuously evolving as global citizenship can ever approach completion, and the present contribution limits its focus to the topics outlined above that amount to the most proximate points of intersection between the idea of global citizenship and the terrain of international relations. The first section of this article offers an overview of the literature focused most directly on the concept of global citizenship and the related notion of global civil society. It begins with literature that takes the specific term “global citizenship” as a point of departure for further analysis and then shifts to literature anchored in normative arguments regarding how one might think about global citizenship, as well as studies in the theory and practices of global civil society. The second section widens the lens to survey the more sweeping literature on citizenship, once again opening with contributions that take the concept of citizenship itself as an entry point into the analysis of a myriad of legal, political, and social relationships, and then transitioning into specific dynamics and policy areas that shape the institution of citizenship as commonly deployed within nation-states: democratic citizenship, migration and mobility, and responses to cultural diversity and multiculturalism, especially across the world’s constitutional democracies. Finally, the focus shifts to the literature on cosmopolitanism, first by reviewing how this encompassing moral vision has unfolded in political and social theory, and then by examining the dramatically expanding literature on global justice, and at last surveying the varied aspirations and prescriptions for a model of cosmopolitan democracy to emerge.

Global Citizenship: General Overview

As the idea of global citizenship gained currency in international relations in the final years of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century, numerous scholars across several disciplines published books and articles that set forth the idea of a global citizen—both as a normative ideal and as a way of characterizing or interpreting newly emerging forms of political and social activism in today’s more interconnected world.

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