Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Mark Edwards

The Adaptive Value of Citizenship: A genealogy of belonging

Photo of Mark Edwards

Social policy is driven by ideas about how people behave.  Assumptions about human nature and expectations about human behaviour are implicit and often explicit in the different models of social control that claim a route to the ‘good society’. 

My research amounts to an evaluation of an adaptionist perspective as a tool of analysis in social policy.  Specifically, the extent to which this perspective contributes to an understanding of social citizenship. 

Citizenship is my focus of evaluation because it is a concept that reflects the moral arguments around which many social policy debates revolve.  An understanding of citizenship would seem to go hand in hand with an understanding of human behaviour.

Importantly, citizenship is not new.  There has always been citizenship.  The notion of belonging or not belonging is ubiquitous in all societies regardless of epoch or culture.  Historically, citizenship has taken different forms and implied different things.  Notions of citizenship have served to mark social boundaries and confer rights and responsibilities on both rulers and the ruled, and drove individuals to take up themselves and identify in others one condition or the other.  There are different  ideas about what citizenship means but ideas about citizenship invariably revolve around three issues: membership; rights and responsibilities; and conditionality.

Ultimately, effective social policy requires a thorough understanding of the human social psyche (Crawford, 2004 and others) . . .  the beginning of human kind seems like a good place to start.

For more information on my research please visit www.markedwards.me

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