Global Citizenship: Reality or Illusion? The Urgency of Rethinking the “Social Contract”

Prof. Piero Dominici

The objective of my presentation is to reflect together on two main points:
Citizenship is no longer merely a legal or judicial question
Citizenship today is only partially linked to rights and duties deriving from the recognition of an individual as belonging to a community (local, national or international). The dimension of citizenship is intimately correlated and linked to the access to education and training, which are no longer national challenges, but rather global. Today the rules of engagement are not being written by legislators, but by those agencies that produce, distribute and share knowledge.
In a totally interconnected and interdependent world-system, citizenship becomes a global issue
The political systems of the nation states have become more and more marginal with respect to economic power, and many modern democracies are becoming “handmaidens” to this power system. Globalization has extended all processes and dynamics to a global dimension; therefore, the solutions to all social, economic, and political issues regarding citizenship must be undertaken in a transnational perspective.
In the light of these two ideas, we must further consider that in our hypertechnological and hyper-connected civilization, the most tangible dangers we are facing are simulation and illusion: simulation of participation and the illusion of having a less asymmetrical relationship to power.
The very concepts of participation and citizenship bring to mind a question which is more general, yet of fundamental importance: the urgency of rethinking the “social contract” and consequently of redefining the rules of engagement of citizenship and inclusion. Connected citizens will not suffice; the citizens we need are those who have been educated and informed analytically, who have been taught critical thinking and complexity, who have been taught citizenship and not subjection.Otherwise, the risk we are running is that of constructing a global citizenship without citizens.
I hold that the most important challenge is that of qualifying people, citizens (not merely in their role of consumers) with the highest degree of awareness and competence possible, to manage the processes and dynamics that touch them personally and that characterize the new ecosystem. It is essential to create the structural conditions which will enable them to inhabit this global ecosystem.