Citizenship and Social Class
T.H Marshall. “Citizenship and Social Class and Other Essays”
In this lecture given at Cambridge University, T. H. Marshall defines the concept of citizenship as a“status of equality associated with the concept of full membership of a community”. He also argues that this concept of citizenship, which has been evolving during the past 150 years and hasprogressively incorporated a wide range of duties and rights, is consistent with the economic inequalities of the capitalist system.
T.H. Marshall specifically states that his purpose is to show the impact ofan egalitarian idea such as citizenship on a system of social inequality.
According to Marshall, the concept of citizenship in England has been evolving in three stages, from the eighteenthcentury, incorporating three main elements or rights: civil, political and social. The civil elements, mainly acquired during the eighteenth century, are “the rights necessary for individual freedom (libertyof the person, freedom of speech, thought and faith, the right to own property and to conclude valid contracts and the right of justice)”. The institutions in charge of guarantee such rights are thecourts of justice.
In the nineteenth century, political rights will follow and are defined as “the right to participate on the exercise of political power, as a member of a body invested withpolitical authority or as an elector of the members of such a body”. The Parliament and Councils of local government are the institutions in which this right is exercise.
The third set of rights is themost relevant one to Marshall´s argument. The social rights “.. the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritageand to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in the society.” The relevance of these rights started to be recognized with the development of the public elementary...
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