For more than two centuries the Western societies have been dealing with the ongoing process through which they were securing the rights of the individuals while setting clearly their duties towards the structured community they were belonging to. It is through that historical development that our societies have become more and more democratic by clarifying the common legal framework and setting the central principle of “rule of law”. It has been then possible to speak about freedom, equality, and citizenship and to deal with ideologies and political views embodied in social organisations or political parties. This was the natural way to deal with social and political pluralism. After the World War II, the arrival of new immigrants – sometimes coming from the previous colonised countries – added a new dimension to the old concept of pluralism : we had thus to deal with “other” cultures and religions, and mainly with “Muslims”. For the last forty years, the Western societies have been dealing with a new complex challenge in the form of a new kind of cultural and religious diversity. Not only the situation is new and difficult but all the figures and the economic prospects are informing us that immigration is not going to stop: whatever strong might be our cultural resistance (and sometimes our rejection of the “foreigners”), our economic needs will be stronger as our societies and enterprises need more and more workers and our “indigenous populations” become more and more older. This conflicting picture creates tension, doubts and fears.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Sociology

Ramadan, T. (2007, November 9). Citizenship and Identity: Old Concepts and New Challenges. Retrieved from

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