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What Does Citizenship Even Mean?

The concept of "citizenship" goes back thousands of years to ancient Greece and Rome whose cultures took many ideas from early Minoans.

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Each week on TestTubePlus, we pick one topic and cover it from multiple angles. This week's subject is immigration. Over the course of this series, we're going to dig super-deep into the idea of immigration and how it affects basically everything. Things Trace will be exploring are: Where did citizenship come from? What good has it done? Can it be bad What is globalization? Today, he'll be discussing: why are some people citizens and where did the concept of being a "citizen" come from?

In the U.S. today, citizens have inalienable rights guaranteed by Constitution: Freedom of speech, the right to vote in free and fair elections, the right to privacy, and more. The Bill of Rights takes certain rights and protects those implying privacy: the right to a fair and speedy trial, and the right to equal treatment under the law. According to the citizenship and responsibilities section of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. citizens have responsibilities: to support and defend the Constitution, serve the country in the military when required, participate in the democratic process, and so on.

The concept of "citizenship" is not a newfangled idea. It goes back thousands to ancient Greece and Rome times. One of the first civilizations in Europe began on the island of Crete in the Aegean Sea, Minoan, 2600 B.C.E. Greek culture took many ideas from the early Minoans. Wars were a part of Greek culture but when they began to cool down, city-states began to develop around 800 B.C.E. Mountains and seas separated many of these city-states which gave them a strong sense of independence. Each city-state included a central city surrounded by the villages, called a polis. People in both the city and countryside were part of the polis. People in a polis thought of themselves as part of a political community. All citizens had legal and political rights, which is the concept of "citizenship". These citizens were part of a political community and we can thanks these ancient Minoans for the idea of citizenship.

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Learn More:

Citizenship (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
"A citizen is a member of a political community who enjoys the rights and assumes the duties of membership. This broad definition is discernible, with minor variations, in the works of contemporary authors as well as in the entry "citoyen" in Diderot's and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie."

Thomas Hobbes Biography (Biography.com)
"Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher in the 17th century, was best known for his book Leviathan (1651) and his political views on society."