A 21st Century Citizen in a Brave New Republic

Inter-Disciplinary Press
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The Citizen in the 21st Century, 2013, 1, pp. 213 - 230
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This paper explores `what constitutes the 21st-century citizen' and how we feel about our political and legal rights, and our identity, in the move from a monarchy to a republic in contemporary Australia. The central theme questions the notion that `citizenship is the local expression of universality' and that `the main aim of property is to constitute subjectivity as intersubjectivity through the mediation of objectivity'. Drawing on data collected in a series of focus groups, the paper takes as its premise the suggestion that the removal of the Crown creates a moment of opportunity for recognition of the guardians of this land, albeit the journey of indigenous Australians to be accepted as citizens has been harrowing. Such a contest of ideas is seen by some to undermine the very fabric of contemporary (settler) society, and a possible move from freehold title to leasehold tenure presents a threat to their interpersonal recognition. Through a political economy exploration of property rights and options in a new republic, that is grounded in an analysis of focus group data, the paper explores Douzinas' argument that: "Political rights emerge out of the destruction of traditional communities and the undermining of the pre-modern body politic and these rights, in turn, accelerated the process. Mutual recognition has moved from the relations of love and care which predominantly characterised the pre-modern world to legal recognition, to the construction of identities through rights But as Marx insisted, political community and citizenship are both the recognition of the universality of rights and of their denial, since rights support and are supported in turn by the inequalities of economy and culture. Secondly, citizenship is a limited universality which is exhausted within the confines of the nation-state and excludes the non-citizens, the foreigners, enemies without and within."
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