The process of globalization is accompanied by a reconfiguration of the ‘state-centric’ model that dominated the 19th and 20th centuries. This reconfiguration involves several different institutions directly connected to the state: among those,that of citizenship.
In the global age, what we are living through is a deconstruction of citizenship as it has been traditionally understood. This has partly been caused by the formation of international regulatory systems and the diffusion of supra-national norms. It seems necessary, therefore, to reconfigure the institution of citizenship: opening it to democratic interactions that are both as much transnational as they are subnational.
This process is not exempt from frictions. As observed by Seyla Benhabib,an intrinsic tension between universal and particular – or, rather, between global and local – is played out in the concept of citizenship: a tension that fully invests in the very idea of cosmopolitanism. The reality in which we find ourselves living is in need of a new negotiation of these two terms: a new balancing between global and local that is not only in favour of one of the two spheres.
In this attempt at mediation, the idea of “European citizenship” can be helpful, as is shown in Archibugi-Benli’s European Citizenship as Rights Claiming. Claiming “citizenship” and rights in a supra-national community dimension, such as the European one, can contribute to the redistribution of political power beyond the closure of national states and may foster new possibilities for European integration. In this way, is it possible to enliven a European civil society which acts within a space of supra-national dialogue where rights may be claimed not only by those formally entitled to do so – rightful “European citizens” – but also by those who are not.
In this way, “citizenship” emerges from the tension found between normative and procedural dimensions. It seems to concern a process carried out also by those who are excluded or included in a subordinate way. As expressed in the article dedicated to citizenship as epistemological and political challenge, to consider the above as a process of local “subjectification” permits one to observe its elasticity and dynamism, thus joining with its global dimension. In fact, the local sphere – according to what is stated in the contribution dedicated to a “post-national” model of citizenship –, with its segmentations and boundaries, is anything but invisible or secondary compared to the fluidity of the global sphere. It seems important to be able to form communities whose group identity does not feel threatened by any “otherness”, but rather perceives “extra-local” identities as an opportunity for development. In this regard, within the process of community identification – as expressed in the essays dedicated to the descendants of Filipino migrants in Messina (Sicily, Italy) and the Hispanic community in the United States – a crucial role is always played by language.
With the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, in Europe as in the rest of the world, not only do cultural and political factors have relevance, but also directly socio-economic factors. Akeel Bilgrami observes how traditional institutions have not been able to adequately respond to the global crisis of 2008 and have thus contributed to the spread of populist sentiments in large impoverished sections of the population. The roots of these political phenomena – commonly labeled with the term “populism” – must be sought in the development of neo-liberal economic policies promoted since the 1980s until today. The end of the Keynesian period and the dialectic between profits and social status has produced a significant imbalance: both from the socio-economic point of view, as well as from the human one. The trend must be reversed: one of the most effective ways seems to be to promote policies that are more attentive to the real needs of the population.