The world as we have once known has changed dramatically over the last few centuries, and yet many of the same questions that were asked more than two thousand years ago are still being asked today. As our world becomes more and more universal, with the help of mass communication, mass transit, and the ability for the common citizen to travel and experience diverse cultures, we are witnessing an enormous integration of these distinct cultures through inter-cultural marriages, foreign residents, and new citizenship. The question of citizenship and what makes a citizen a citizen is not a new question to ponder. As far back as the life and times of Aristotle, philosophers and political thinkers have been examining the questions of citizenship and how it relates to political and social situations of the time. So, what was considered a citizen in the life and times of Aristotle and what is considered a citizen today? Let us analyze the strong and the weak aspects of Aristotle's philosophical and political thinking on this subject and compare it to the modern day viewpoint.
Aristotle's view on citizenship is one of the largest points of argument in his composition of The Politics. Many scholars believe this is to be true since, after the Greek philosopher's teaching of political theory in Asia Minor, Aristotle was not offered Athenian citizenship on his return to the polis of Athens. Thus, his questioning of what is citizenship not only took on a political and philosophical significance but also a personal one. Aristotle believed that to ask who is a citizen was to ask of the nature of a citizen. He believed that birth, ancestry, and location were not direct links to citizenship, but rather an individual that participated in ruling and judging. According to Aristotle, one who rules and is ruled should be considered a citizen of the polis. Thus the mere activities that the individual plays within the society and the sharing of a constitution meet the criteria for citizenship.