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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Besides its impact on poverty, inequality, and economic security, social policy also bears crucial significance for the meaning and quality of citizenship in a political community. Historical research on American political development has revealed that ideas about citizenship played a central role in the development of social policy. Throughout U.S. history, policy makers have often justified social policies on the basis that they would develop Americans' civic capacity and inculcate participatory norms. In addition, U.S. social policy has shaped citizens' experiences of government and their political participation and attitudes. Established social policies have influenced citizens' ability to practice their political rights, the extent of solidarity or division in society, and people's inclination to engage in civic life. In sum, American civil and political rights cannot be fully understood apart from their interaction with social rights and provision. This essay offers an introduction to thinking about the relationship between citizenship and social policy. It considers the place of social policy in different theoretical understandings of citizenship in social science research. It explores the mechanisms through which social policies can influence citizenship, tracing their impact on: membership, identity, and belonging; political attitudes; and political participation and other forms of civic involvement. Finally, it considers the contemporary relationship between social policy and citizenship and offer directions for future research on this relationship.

Keywords: citizenship, social citizenship, social rights, civic engagement, political participation, American political development

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