There are several different ways an individual can be identified as a citizen. According the Merriam-Webster dictionary, citizenship is defined as: The status of being a citizen, membership in a community, and the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community.

Being a citizen, and thus having citizenship, is “normally synonymous with the term nationality…although [it] may also refer to ethnic connotations” (Citizenship, Wikipedia, 2013). According to the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside”. If an individual was not born in the United States but wishes to become a citizen, they must pass a naturalization test and interview. This test includes assessment of English proficiency and knowledge regarding US History and Civics Test.

See what immigrants have to prepare for in order to become naturalized. Take the quiz and see how informed you are!

Citizenship, as it pertains to being a member of a community, is a broad concept. An individual can identify themselves as a citizen of a digital community, town, city, school, state, country, ethnic group or even the world.


A critical aspect of citizenship is accepting and embracing a set of rights, duties, responsibilities and privileges. For example, a citizen of the United States is afforded rights and privileges protected by the Bill of Rights. However, in order to be an effective citizen, a certain degree of civic engagement is necessary to ensure and uphold those rights. This is known as “active citizenship” (Citizenship, Wikipedia, 2013).

Being a citizen is an intricate web “that consists of self-knowledge, interaction, and intimate knowledge of a place, its people, and its cultural history” (Heick, 2012). It is also very subjective and personal. For example, one individual may believe that active civic engagement such as voting, paying taxes and writing to elected officials are critical to being a “good citizen”. Another may believe that being a good citizen is not voting for candidates they don’t believe in, protesting government activity or refusing to pay taxes. Ultimately these behaviors which imply “good citizenship” are varied. Yet at the same time, these positions affirm that citizenship comes with a sense of duty and rights.

See how the definition of citizenship can vary from one person to the next.

Web Pages Cited
Heick, T. (2012, May 5). The definition of digital citizenship. Retrieved from

Created by Maxwell Comando