By active citizenship, we [Oxfam] mean that combination of rights and obligations that link individuals to the state, including paying taxes, obeying laws, and exercising the full range of political, civil, and social rights. Active citizens use those rights to improve the quality of political or civic life, through involvement in the formal economy or formal politics, or through the sort of collective action that historically has allowed poor and excluded groups to make their voices heard. At an individual level, active citizenship means developing self-confidence and overcoming the insidious way in which the condition of being relatively powerless can become internalised. In relation to other people, it means developing the ability to negotiate and influence decisions. And when empowered individuals work together, it means involvement in collective action, be it at the neighbourhood level, or more broadly. Ultimately, active citizenship means engaging with the political system to build an effective state, and assuming some degree of responsibility for the public domain.
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