The 21st century citizen

The 21st century citizen
Who is a citizen? The meaning of citizenship in the 21st Century. (Anthony Russo / For The Times)

The idea of citizenship in America is under pressure from many sides. Immigration has created a large population of residents outside the boundaries of citizenship, cultural blending has produced many Americans with loyalties to other nations, and corporations have come to enjoy some of the privileges once reserved for individual citizens. Those and other aspects of the changing nature of citizenship are the subjects of The 21st Century Citizen, a project that originates in a series of editorials by The Times editorial board and broadens here to include contributions by other writers and thinkers on the questions they raise.

We also put this core question — What does it mean to be a citizen? — to a range of Southern Californians. Here is a series of video interviews chronicling their views and personal stories.


Want to join the conversation? Share your thoughts, rebuttals and experiences with us at

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Give noncitizens the right to vote? It's only fair

Should non-citizens in the U.S. vote?

There are some intriguing arguments for letting non-citizens vote, but ultimately they aren't persuasive.

Patriotic Americans have the right not to believe in any God

In the U.S., nonbelievers and adherents of minority faiths sometimes are sometimes made to feel like second-class citizens.

Does speaking English make an immigrant more American?

If we want immigrants in the U.S. to speak English, education policies must encourage it.

GOP could reopen citizenship paths created by Hoover and Reagan

Republicans in the new Congress could unblock old paths to citizenship forged by previous GOP presidents.

The complicated rules of citizenship

To Americans, the rules of citizenship can seem simple: You're a member of this nation either by birth or naturalization. But centuries of debate over how citizenship can be acquired and lost show that the concept is not simple at all. This is especially true of birthright citizenship.

The evolving acceptance of dual citizenship

Holding dual citizenship doesn't undermine naturalized citizens' capacity to be good Americans.

Why U.S. citizenship matters

Citizenship should be the goal of permanent residents. It is a source of empowerment and an investment in good government.

The meaning of U.S. citizenship

A Times series, "The 21st Century Citizen," looks at the changing issues and attitudes surrounding American citizenship.