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What is citizenship?

Citizenship has two main parts: legal status and active practice. Legal citizenship means being a member of a state, with rights and responsibilities. Active citizenship means being informed and involved in your community. Good citizens are empowered, community-minded, inclusive, and informed. They play a key role in democracy. Created by Kimberly Kutz.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] There are a few definitions of the term citizenship. In this video, we're going to talk about two of those definitions. One is the legal definition, the status of having citizenship. A person has citizenship as a member of a state, which gives them rights, responsibilities, and privileges. A citizen of the United States is entitled to the protections granted in the Constitution and Bill of Rights like freedom of speech. There are two paths to citizenship. People are either born citizens because their parents were citizens or because they were born on US soil or they can become naturalized citizens. We'll talk more in other videos about the process to become a citizen but for now just know that naturalization is the legal process by which a foreign citizen or national can become a US citizen. The other definition of citizenship I wanna talk about here is not just the legal status of having citizenship but the practice of active citizenship. You practice good citizenship by being an informed and active member of a political community. So what does it mean to be a good citizen? There are a few aspects of good citizenship. First, a good citizen is empowered. That means that they exercise their rights and believe that they can make a difference by doing so. They don't say, "Nah, I'm not gonna do anything. "It wouldn't make a difference anyway." A good citizen is also community-minded. They feel a sense of responsibility for their communities and they wanna help them be the best that they can be. They're also inclusive. And by that I mean that they wanna do what's best for everyone in their community, not just what would be most beneficial to themselves. They include multiple viewpoints and stand up for the rights of others. And lastly, a good citizen is informed. They know how the government works, they're up to date on the problems that the government is facing and the decisions that it's making. Good citizens are invaluable to democracy because democracy works best when citizens are knowledgeable and active in political debate.