ERIC Number: ED218183
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1982-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
A Philosophic and Social Theory Perspective on Citizen Participation.
Lilly, Edward R.
In seeking to understand the historic, cultural context of citizen participation, one looks to the roots of the concept of citizenship. Both Aristotle and Plato describe the ideal of citizenship in terms of participation. A citizen is one who belongs to and in the community. The concept of community is one of shared location, values, language, and activities. Since citizen participation takes place within the broader community, it takes place in an atmosphere which enhances the possibility of successful communication, negotiations, and collective action. To Plato our contemporary concept of citizen participation would have seemed very strange. He could not have conceived of public life without the participation of citizens and, except in the direct emergencies of war, he was opposed to government intervention. The early Roman and Greek city state did not evolve into the modern state easily because it was based in a particularism in both religion and culture which did not provide for the absorption of outsiders. It was the invention of a state religion which accepted strangers into the culture which permitted the expansion of Rome from city state to empire. Saint Augustine analogized a dual citizenship, one to the heavenly city, the other to the earthly. Both the word authority and the notion of the state deriving its authority from a collective, implicit grant of authority by the people come from Hobbs. Citizen participation is a group and not an individual phenomenon. Benefits are distributed to individuals in terms of their relative power within the group and of their group's effectiveness. Writers on citizen participation appear universally to subscribe to the notion that alienation is reducible by individual and group action within existing society and that citizen participation is a useful tool for that purpose. (RM)
Descriptors: Ancient History, Citizen Participation, Citizenship Education, Elementary Secondary Education, Greek Civilization, History, Theories
Dr. Edward R. Lilly, George Washington University, 2201 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20052 (free).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A