Aristotle’s Conception of Citizenship

In Chapter third of ‘The Politics’, Aristotle mentions about the state and citizenship. The Greeks, in those days, regarded citizenship as something not guaranteeing rights but affording opportunities of services to the state.

Following are the essential attributes of citizens, according to Aristotle:

  • The essential attribute of citizenship is neither residence, descent nor legal privileges (right of suing and being sued) but civic functions not for a limited but for an indefinite period.
  • A citizen should participate in the administration of justice, works as a juror and take part in the deliberation of state assembly as a member of the legislature.
  • Citizen signifies the enjoyment of political rights and duties with an active capable political participation in public life.
  • Aristotle’s citizen is the head of a household with enough of property and leisure to be able to devote himself to public affairs. Leisure for the pursuit of the highest or supreme value of life (truth, goodness and beauty) not for the fun or merry making. The activities of leisure include political speculation, performance of public services, etc.
  • Women, children, slaves, aliens and men with commercial pursuit are not citizens according to Aristotle.
  • The service of the state of a citizen is not the service of a slave or a mechanic but the service of a free man in a constitutional states.
  • Citizen to Aristotle means having direct share in the affairs of the state in short who works in the executive legislature and judiciary.

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