This is largely to the ever-changing social, political and economic circumstances of a country, which would not allow for a stagnate definition to be formulated about citizenship. Obligations are introduced due to the fact, that not all citizens in a society are originally direct descendants of the land, as it were. There are more and more cases of migrants and asylum seekers, who would end up enjoying the same privileges as the people who have been local residents, but end up delivering much less in substance.
Therefore, in order to balance the equation, and put more rationale in the concept of citizenship, it was deemed necessary to have certain obligation put forth for them to be active members of the society as well. Instead of taking them as citizens, they are actually considered as ‘subjects of the crown’. Whether this is right or wrong is a separate debate, the point of contention is that this changes the notion of how a citizen would identify him/herself as a member of the state.
This somehow puts some default role for the populace; whereby they are expected to behave in a certain way, undergo certain duties as well. However, obedience is hard to maintain in a de-facto way, there has to be some incentive as well. In this essay I will focus on how the experience of citizenship has affected black people in the U. K. Being a British national has benefits like unlimited travel entries, free movement within the European Union, voting rights and other benefits to which the natural British citizens are entitled.
Usually after the indefinite leave to remain (ILR), if there are no facts detrimental to a permanent citizenship, usually British citizenship is granted so that the minorities could become naturalised citizens of Britain. Today, United Kingdom touts its commitment to multiculturalism and also allows dual nationality. This is perhaps the best policy, because people who do not want to give up their own nationality too can become citizens of Britain and get the benefits.
The country too can benefit by their education, experience and working capabilities, though there is no demand that a person should become a naturalised citizen. Legal British citizenship for the minorities has been a changing concept, recently with more regularities and demands. The citizenship requirement is not spread in a uniform way amongst the minorities; instead, the blacks seem to be having an upper hand here. “The rates of British Citizenship found across different groups contain a high degree of variance, with black Africans exhibiting the highest level of non-British citizenship in 1977,” (Evans, 1999, p. 05).
Blacks, who have migrated into Britain since the days of slavery and increased their numbers in recent decades, have become better naturalised citizens than other minorities. Complete naturalisation and acceptance of British way of life, while retaining some of their own traditional values, depends on many criteria. The main factor that should be considered here is the period of migration and the length of stay here.
These factors are the period of migration, the economic conditions of migration, the citizenship regime of the host state, and the ways in which the political cultures imported by immigrants from their original countries have combined with native political cultures,” (Penninx, 2004, p. 42). It is necessary for every naturalised citizen to have a positive approach about the citizenship, because it should never be a document of convenience, but a genuinely accepted citizenship with all the psychological perspectives of a born citizen.
To attain this, there is a basic necessity of psychological perspective of this country and its citizenship. This means, an individual’s mindset about Britain and its citizenship mainly depends upon the treatment he received from the British people after migrating here, the stereotyped models the individual has maintained in his mind and also the prejudiced or unprejudiced attitude he had developed over the years, either aided by the local population, or totally unaided. Victorians thought that the minorities were uncivilised people from far off colonies, and unfortunately they showed it in their attitude.
This does not mean that there were no kind people in Victorian days. If the minorities had come into contact with well-balanced thinkers, there are instances of positive outlook where the person became happy under a helpful employer or a friend. The mass migration was from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies. The settlements were localised and some clusters emerged in London, Liverpool, Cardiff, in the early 1800s and in those days, they were all referred to as black communities.
They lived a poor life, as any other immigrants of any country and tried hard to eke out a living. “A pattern of black minority ethnic settlement characterised by residential concentration, segregation and deprivation is now well-established in Britain as the day-to-day experience of most people living in Britain at that time was a white one,” (Pacione, 2002, p. 216). Eventually their living conditions, with their own hard work and government help, improved and along with it, improved the attitude of the British, who came to recognise the good qualities of their minorities.
In any country, it is quite natural, to have wrong opinion, dislike, suspicion about the new people who look different and only slowly as the society changes, it would learn to accept the new people enough to offer them a permanent place in their midst. “Cohen’s (1989) study of student teacher’s perception of minority ethnic groups in Britain also indicated that only a small proportion of the students had any with visible minority ethnic people and generally exhibited considerable ignorance about minority ethnic groups,” (Arora, 2005, p. 146).
Here, understanding minorities understands their experiences and if possible, make amends wherever it applies. British society has done so for a long time now and the bitterness, if any, has vanished from the society. Over the years, these communities got accepted, children got educated and started working along with their British peers and the perception changed a lot slowly, especially in the port cities where minority population was the highest. “All are port cities, in which the minority population comes from highly diverse origins, and has had a long history of intermarriage,” (Collette, 2003, p. 68).
This does not mean that there will never be any problems from both the sides now or in future. No doubt, the acquired citizenship will give additional liberties and rights to the minorities; but if they use them in the wrong way, already reluctant host community could become belligerent and hostile. “This reminds us that it may well be in the area of citizenship that members of minority ethnic groups are particularly likely to encounter ethnic penalties that have knock-on effects for other aspects of their lives,” (Mason, 2003, p. 4).
At the same time, there is another future beckoning, where the citizen minorities and the born citizens who are in majority today can live and work together for a better future. “But it is also likely that the diversities have been shaped by the experience of the different groups over time in Britain, the length of time spent in Britain, the characteristics of the areas of settlement – and the possibilities of geographical mobility within Britain, the experience of racism and responses to it, interaction with the education system, and the labour market over time,” (Platt, 2005, p. ).
This argument is very pertinent in today’s Britain. The perception of minorities from the viewpoint of majorities has undergone an easily perceivable change and this is a major gratification not only to minorities, but to all. Minorities have more or less become the real citizens here and their mental and psychological outlooks are British now. The perception of the majorities has grudgingly changed and that has made the minority citizenship easier. Government takes trouble to imbibe the Britishness in the new citizens and it is the right approach.
No country would like to have citizens who are hankering for their motherland, while living in Britain and enjoying the rights. There are minority children, who are proud to be British today. Unfortunately, the recent incidents of homegrown terror marred the bonhomie. It rudely showed that by being citizens here, minorities have not fully adopted the British way. This had been a major setback to the citizenship plan that pushed the majority and minority communities apart once again. If this could be modified in some way, it could only be done by the minorities and not by the majority.
Majority had accepted that the British citizenship is of various colours and not necessarily just white. Now it is for the minorities to erase the suspicions and justify their citizenships, so that it can become the basis of the understanding between minorities and majority population. It will also become the basis of understanding the minority experience in Britain over the years and how it could alter the mindset, citizenship, attitude, perception of each other after a long time of living in the same society.