There is no standard model and no universally accepted definition for an active citizen. It is agreed that it refers to individuals who are involved in public life and affairs. There are different levels: local, national and international levels. The term is used to refer to citizens who are actively involved in the life of their communities helping to solve problems or to bring about change or by resisting unwanted change most especially at the local levels.
These citizens aim to improve the quality of life by developing the skills, knowledge and understanding in order to make informed decisions about their workplaces and communities. At the national level it can be from voting to being involved in campaigning to become a member of a political party. At international level the global active citizen may be involved in movements to promote sustainability or fair trade, to reduce poverty or eliminate slavery.
An active citizen is not necessarily a ‘good citizen’ in the sense that they follow the rules or behave in a certain way. An active citizen may challenge the rules and existing structures although they should generally stay within the bounds of democratic processes and not become involved in violent acts. There is a general set of values and dispositions that can be associated with active democratic citizenship including respect for justice, democracy and the rule of law, openness, tolerance, courage to defend a point of view and a willingness to listen to, work with and stand up for others.
It may be the development of knowledge, understanding, critical thinking, a form of literacy, coming to grips with what happens in public life and the judgement of local, national, European, global levels. It implies action and empowerment, i.e. acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes, being able and willing to use them, make decisions, take action individually and collectively.
Active Citizenship can be characterized through:
•Involvement in a voluntary activity or engaging with local government agencies or participation of individuals in the community
•Empowering the people to play a part in the processes and decisions that affect them, especially public services and policy
•Making informed decisions by understanding and obtaining the knowledge about the political, social, economic context of their participation
•Challenge actions or policies of existing structures on the basis of principles like equality, diversity, social justice and inclusiveness.Read More