A2 General Studies: Citizenship, Community and Democracy

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  • Created by: BeccaS
  • Created on: 04-06-13 17:23

Citizenship, Community and Democracy

Exam Themes:

  • The rights and responsibilities of citizens
  • How informed citizens become effective citizens
  • What are communities and why are they important?
  • Classifying political ideas
  • Party programmes, leaders and ideologies
  • Democracy, pluralism and pressure groups
  • The changing electoral system
  • Patterns of voter choices at the ballot box

Rights and Responsibilities: Citizens in Action

Rights and Responsibilities

We often hear far more people claiming rights than owning up to or recognising that with rights come responsibilities; the two go together.

  • To enjoy the protection of society's laws, we need to be law-abiding ourselves
  • To benefit from living in a democratic society, we need to keep ourselves well informed, expect to participate and to be listened to, and to vote in elections
  • We need to express our viewpoints openly and engage in debates about how things can be improved - leaving it to others is not acceptable
  • To enjoy all of the rights which we are entitled to as citizens, we have to treat others with consideration and not behave antisocially
  • We may be entitled to receive benefits, but we also have a responsibility to inform the authorities of changes in our circumstances

Rule of Law

Being an effective citizen is to make full use of our rights. If we dislike a proposed planning development, we can express our objections and the planners have to listen to our points. If we dislike proposed boundaries for the consituencies which elect MPs, we can object and the Boundary Commission has to take our objections into account. If we buy faulty goods in a shop, the law gives us rights to get our money back or have the goods replaced. No one in the UK is above the law. But many people don't yet understand their rights well enough to exert them fully.

Information is Power

  • Unless we know about plans for our school, workplace or community, we stand little chance of influencing them
  • In recent years, information has become much more avaliable and accessible - especially using interactive media and the internet and thanks to the Freedom of Information Act
  • Many people react to new ideas by protesting; to be effective such activities need to occur early on - long before the government or council has endorsed it or binding legal contracts have been signed
  • Organising a petition or protest may make people feel good, but such actions are unlikely to be successful unless many people take parrt and the events are part of a well planned, intensive campaign
  • Sometimes decision makers say that people are "not interested" yet when people feel that their views are taken seriously, they usually become interested

Political Parties and Party Systems

How ideology helps to explain party systems

Ideologically, UK parties were traditionally divided between


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