Teaching citizenship: Work and the economy
Teaching citizenship: Work and the economy

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Teaching citizenship: Work and the economy

4 Status citizenship

All these organisational initiatives are deeply concerned with labour conditions and the notion of the ‘working citizen’. And their activities raise the issue of status citizenship and the role of legal sanctions. The forms of commitment by firms and their monitoring by the organisations just outlined are voluntary on the part of companies. One of the problems with the emphasis on acts citizenship in the debates about GCC is that the question of status citizenship is largely ignored.

This difficulty can be highlighted by asking the question ‘What are global companies citizens of?’ There is no organised polity equivalent to a national state, for instance, with reference to which global companies could be called formally to account, and with which their status as citizens could be legally regulated. This does not (yet) exist in the international system.

Activity 2

Go to the Weblinks below to find the statements from the UN, the OECD and the ILO about the ethical aspects of business activity.


Given that ‘global corporate citizenship’ remains an elaborate claim, and the uncertainty over exactly what international corporations are citizens of (their status citizenship), it is important to maintain a critical attitude to companies' activity in these respects. The arguments about this are analysed in my article Global Corporate Citizenship: What does it mean?.

Click 'view document' below to download Global Corporate Citizenship

It also contains several references to organisations and websites of those who are sceptical of many of the claims made by corporations with regard to them properly attending to their social, environmental and ethical responsibilities.

It thus offers a resource for reviewing the attitudes of some sections of the ‘anti-globalisation’ movement, as well as of those who are enthusiastically advancing the GCC agenda.

The general problem with the currently fashionable emphasis on acts citizenship in this and other areas of life is that, because it is largely voluntary and behavioural, the rights and obligations associated with it can easily be eroded. This is less the case with status citizenship, since here rights and obligations associated with citizenship are enacted into law and enforced by legal sanction.

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