Abstract

At a time of rising stress for communities, families, and individuals coupled with a growing disillusionment with government, the concept of ‘active citizenship’ has arrived as a salve to many of the social ills of our time. Emphasizing citizen's own responsibilities, and espousing values of solidarity, community, and neighbourliness, active citizenship embodies all that is good, rendering it somewhat immune from criticism. While agreeing that community values of solidarity and neighbourliness are indeed critical, this paper takes issue with what it argues is a significant re-visioning of the three core concepts embodied within active citizenship – citizenship, social capital, and community development – and argues that active citizenship, as it is currently promoted by state and select civil society organizations alike, substitutes self-help for redistribution and self-reliance for state accountability, in the process depoliticizing the principles and practice of community development and denying community actors a voice in their own development.

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