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New Labour and the reconstruction of ‘citizenship’

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Presentation on theme: "New Labour and the reconstruction of ‘citizenship’"— Presentation transcript:

1 New Labour and the reconstruction of ‘citizenship’

2 Background: the concept of ‘citizenship’ (T.H. Marshall) The British post-war welfare state: a critique New Right Conservatism and ‘citizenship’ New Labour and the reconfiguration of ‘citizenship’ ‘The War on Terror’ and ‘citizenship’ Conclusion

3 Concept of Citizenship A contested concept but refers to the entitlement to rights in return for the acceptance of certain obligations or duties Citizenship rights emerged historically from the 18 th C (civil rights) through the 19 th C (political rights) into the 20th C (social rights) Duties have traditionally included military conscription, to pay taxes, to seek employment, to obey the law, and loyalty to the nation state (Cohen & Kennedy 2007).

4 T.H. Marshall’s (1950) idea of ‘citizenship’ 18 th C – civil rights (to own property, enter contracts, free assembly, free speech, free thought, the right to justice from an impartial legal system) 19 th C – political rights (to vote for a political party of choice and to engage in political action) 20 th C – social rights (access to welfare provisions of a minimum standard including benefits, housing, education and health) that ensures individuals have an equal opportunity to participate as autonomous beings (economically and politically)

5 The British post-war welfare state Established after WW2 based on Keynesian welfarist principles – in theory, a solidaristic state- centred approach to maintaining full employment (through fiscal policies) and meeting universal social needs (through the welfare state) In reality, welfare entitlement operated as a mechanism of ‘citizenship’ (and therefore of inclusion/ exclusion) – based on white patriarchal and heterosexist family values (generating excluded outsiders).

6 Critique of Marshall Anglocentric – based too closely on Britain’s experience and welfare system (see Esping-Andersen 1990) Exclusionary - based on membership of a specific economic/ cultural ‘community’/territory, excluding those ‘outside’ - including internals not in paid work (often women, the disabled, children) and externals (disadvantaged immigrants) Failed to recognise dual citizenship (migrants with connections to other countries) or cosmopolitan citizenship (and the need for acceptance of other traditions/cultures) (Cohen & Kennedy 2007) Civil and political rights of little value to the majority living in poverty; at the same time, welfare rights functioned to ameliorate the conditions of sections of the working class without transforming the social system (Byrne 2006) Concerned largely with individualism rather than collective action in pursuit of social justice (Byrne 2006).

7 Post 1970s: the welfare state ‘in crisis’ Economic restructuring (loss of manufacture in an increasingly globalised market) leads to structural unemployment (strain on benefits) and rise of a service sector economy Social change (household structure and aging popn) raise cost of health and social care Increasing strain on ability of state to offer collective social protection Political shift to the right (especially after 1979 with rise of neo-liberal political economy under Thatcher and emphasis on individualism and the market)

8 New Right Conservatives and ‘citizenship’ (1979-1997) Conservative anti-statist welfare discourse based on public choice theory (attacked interests of state bureaucracies as self-seeking and at the expense of the ‘consumer’; introduced notion of ‘consumer choice’ in welfare provision – the idea of the ‘citizen-consumer’) Examples of the application of ‘consumer choice’ in social policy are the ‘right-to-buy’ (selling off council housing) and parental choice in schooling (Clarke et al. 2007)

9 New Labour and ‘citizenship’ Blair’s ‘New Labour’ elected in 1997 – inherited 18 years of neo-liberal economic and social restructuring (including widening social inequalities), and continued with many of their reforms Far less emphasis on citizens’ rights - greater stress on duties (particularly in respect of seeking paid work, assuming greater responsibility for self and family, and showing greater commitment to ‘community’ and nation) Continued political attack on the welfare state due to its burden on public spending/the tax payer, and its tendency to generate a ‘dependency culture’ (Cohen & Kennedy 2007)

10 New Labour and ‘citizenship’ Continued with the idea of ‘consumer choice’ – yet Blair stressed ‘extending choice – for the many, not the few... because it boosts equity’ (cited in Clarke et al. 2007: 39) to distinguish his social democratic credentials (cf Conservatism) However, persisted with the neo-liberal market model where ‘choice’ is largely realised by the ability to pay (e.g. for home ownership in the catchment area of the better schools, or for private health insurance).

11 Appeal to ‘community’ Increasing stress on the responsibility of the ‘community’ (active citizenship) in social policy and crime control (see Giddens 1998) Evident in relation to urban regeneration (building the ‘social capital’ of run-down neighbourhoods by volunteering/engaging in civic institutions); community safety (to deal with crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour); and community cohesion (in the aftermath of the 2001 riots in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford) (Cohen & Kennedy 2007).

12 Appeal to ‘nationalism’ Evidence of an increasing assault on multiculturalism with greater emphasis on assimilation (McGhee 2005) Nationality, I&A Act 2002 included provision for a citizenship test and ceremonies (where applicants pledged allegiance to Britain) ‘The Path to Citizenship’ (Home Office, 2008) sets out ‘what we require of migrants’ – including that they demonstrate (during a probation period) ‘a more substantial contribution to Britain’ by learning to speak English; becoming self sufficient and paying taxes; obeying the law; and integrating into ‘the British way of life’ and playing ‘an active part in their community’) See: h ttp:// tizenship/pathtocitizenship?view=Binary

13 The ‘citizenship’ test

14 Incentivising ‘responsibilised citizens’ Social policies increasingly aimed at incentivising the ‘responsible citizen’ around ‘shared common values’ based on notions of ‘respect’, ‘decency’ and ‘Britishness’ Following interventions by state agencies, individuals will be expected to adapt and be responsible... Those who fail to adapt will be criminalised, stripped of welfare entitlements or refused citizenship’ (Cooper 2008: 170).

15 Task Following the 2001 riots, The Cantle Report (2001) argued the need to establish a ‘greater sense of citizenship’ based on ‘common principles’. To achieve this, the report called for a well-resourced national debate on the concept of citizenship (cited in Giddens 2006: 914). In small groups, debate the idea of ‘citizenship’ and the ‘common principles’ upon which it might be based (i.e. what does it mean)? Consider the societal conditions necessary for ‘citizenship’ to flourish?

16 The War on Terror and ‘citizenship’ In 2000, an estimated 2000 Muslims were stopped and searched under anti-terrorism legislation in Britain; in 2003, this had risen to 35,000 (with less than 50 charged) Islamophobia appears to be rising - creating a climate of fear among Muslims. If this is ‘not addressed, then more and more Muslims will feel excluded from British society and simmering tensions, especially in northern English towns, are in danger of boiling over’ (McGhee 2005: 99) Between 1997-2006, 16 acts of Parliament attacking civil liberties in Britain - including 18 th C rights to free speech, free assembly and habeas corpus – were passed (see Cooper 2008, p.211)

17 Conclusion Leaving aside the contestability of Marshall’s notion of ‘citizenship’, it seems clear that the civil, political and social rights that were reinforced (at least for the many) in the post-war period have since been eroded; at the same time, there has been a greater emphasis on duties in respect of working and becoming self sufficient, obeying the law, and being loyal to ‘British’ values This reflects a significant change in the relationship between the British state and its citizens – with implications for democracy, social solidarity and the likely efficacy of social policy measures targeting community safety, cohesion and wellbeing.

18 Additional references (to those in the module handbook) Cohen, R. & Kennedy, P. (2007) Global Sociology, 2 nd Edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave. Giddens, A. (2006) Sociology, 5 th Edition, Cambridge: Polity Press.

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