The Strange Career of Occidental Citizenship - Patrimonialism and Cities
Was Weber’s occidental citizenship theory a Euro-centric prejudice? One can argue that modernity’s hallmark is citizenship. Conventional wisdom traces citizenship to “state of nature” argumentations, to social contractarianism and to Enlightenment thinkers. Classical sociologists hardly developed a clear notion of citizenship. Marx - in his well-known debate “On the Jewish Question” - regarded political emancipation as falling short of human emancipation. As a result, citizenship did not play a central role in Marxist scholarship as an emancipatory effort and goal. In contrast, Weber’s analysis of citizenship is hardly known or discussed. In this regard, Weber’s article on citizenship is unique; and, it towers above other classical renditions of citizenship’s perceptions.
Cities, according to Weber, played a crucial role in the development of occidental citizenship. Patrimonialism was a hindrance not only to cities' development but also to citizenship’s progression. The fact that “the army of the prince is older than the city” had tremendously important significance in the development of a seemingly unrelated world phenomenon: citizenship. Hence, patrimonialism - or in other well-known appellation such as “Oriental despotism” - rooted in the hydrographic imperial ruler-ship, had a decisively negative impact on cities' development and on city-dwellers' ability to become independent political players. Such unique developmental trajectory has occurred in the Occident. However, occidental citizenship was also related to general economic as well as to religious circumstances and conditions. Weber’s occidental citizenship theory presents a historically breathtaking synopsis of materialist as well as cultural conditioning of citizenship. The mode in which economy and society intertwined in such cities, could have no better demonstration than the probable but strange career occidental citizenship has developed.