Oliver, D. & Heater, D. (1994). ‘”Civic virtue” and “active citizenship”‘. In Oliver, D. & Heater, D. (eds.) The Foundations of Citizenship. Ch. 6, p. 114-132. Harvester, Wheatsheaf.

Key Concepts & Guidance Questions

  • Who is a good Citizen?
    • In the civic republican sense? (3 main perspectives from the dominant views on this ‘virtue’) (p. 116-20)
    • In the liberal view of citizenship? (five characteristics of the ideal liberal citizen) (p. 120-3)
  • What is the background to the development of the concept of ‘active citizenship’? (p. 123-4)
  • Who might be considered an active citizen? (And by whose criteria?) (p. 125-6)
  • Do you agree that civic republicanism is in danger of becoming irrelevant? Why do you think so? (p. 127-8)
  • What are the weaknesses of the liberal approach to citizenship, according to the other two approaches? (p. 128)
  • What the the two points of criticism of communitarianism? Do you agree? (p. 129)

Can the concept of citizenship be understood by drawing on the ‘virtues’ (strengths) from these three schools of thought?

Application Questions

  • Is Singapore at the cusp of rolling back government, in the sense that citizens are taking more responsibility or getting more involved in dimensions of society previously left to the government? If so, is ‘active citizenship’ a helpful concept for this moment in time?
  • What does it mean today to be a Singapore citizen, in terms of the three schools of thought?
  • Is Singapore headed toward liberal citizenship, with the younger generation? What are some of the dangers, if so?
  • If you had to choose, would you describe yourself as more of a civic republican, liberal or communitarian citizen?