The Dictionary of Politics, edited by Bobbio, Matteucci and Pasquino, published in 1976, did not contain an entry on “citizenship.” At the time it was a consequence of the existence of the state. It was only in the 1990s that scholars began to elaborate on the idea. In the interim, what had changed? The new political climate raised questions about the role of citizens and the very meaning of citizenship, highlighting the fact that citizenship is not an accidental, but an essential feature of the democratic state. Attempts at definition highlight the complexity of the concept, oscillating as they do from a legal conception, based on prerogatives and obligations, to a broad and generic one that includes different principles for inclusion, to the point of emptying the word of meaning.
A new book, Cittadinanza (Citizenship), by Giovanni Moro, embodies an important piece of research, the result of fifteen years of teaching at the Department of Political Science at Rome’s La Sapienza University. Moro proposes, in an almost didactic style, the essential elements of the paradigm of “democratic citizenship” geared toward academics and the public interested in themes connected to democracy. Dense and yet accessible , the study is a reflection on the actual use of this concept, confronting its genesis, its unresolved complexities, and its challenges.
Written in the summer of 2019 and published at the beginning of the pandemic, the book has elements which are prophetic and evocative at the same time. Prophetic, because the pandemic highlighted many issues related to citizenship: the issue of individual freedoms, the involvement of citizens in decisions during a prolonged period of emergency, their sense of belonging, their exercising duties and rights. Alongside these, the formation of a European citizenship and the integration of immigrants make citizenship a litmus test for a valid understanding of the challenges of recent decades.