Democracy thrives best in a society whose water is drinkable, whose schools impart a decent education, whose denizens have adequate incomes and hope for the future.

| Rebecca Solnit, Tyranny of the Minority

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source: Kobu Agency

Solnit is part of a trend to avoid the word citizen in favor of denizen.

As Kate Reed Petty writes in Is It Time To Retire The Word Citizen?,

Until a few years ago, there was a mysterious smudge in the Declaration of Independence. Using high-tech analysis, researchers at the Library of Congress discovered the erasure under the smudge. Thomas Jefferson had originally written the word subjects. He changed it to citizens.

As flawed as our concept of citizenship was in America at that time, Jefferson’s change is still relevant today; it’s one of the country’s early recognitions that people in society should be something more than “subjects.”

And now, citizen, which excludes the undocumented, visa holders, and others, might be getting smudged out of the discussion.

Written by

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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