Second-class citizen


Second-class citizen

Second-class citizen is an informal term used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there. While not necessarily slaves, outlaws or criminals, second-class citizens have limited legal rights, civil rights and economic opportunities, and are often subject to mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their putative superiors. Instead of being protected by the law, the law disregards a second-class citizen, or it may actually be used to harass them.

Second-class citizenry is generally regarded as a violation of human rights. Typical impediments facing second-class citizens include, but are not limited to, disenfranchisement (a lack or loss of voting rights), limitations on civil or military service (not including conscription in every case), as well as restrictions on language, religion, education, freedom of movement and association, weapons ownership [http://lonang.com/exlibris/blackstone/bla-404.htm] , marriage, housing and property ownership.

The term is generally used as a pejorative or in the context of civil society activism and governments will typically deny the existence of a second class within the polity. As an informal term, second-class citizenship is not objectively measured; however, cases such as the American South under segregation, apartheid in South Africa, the people of India under the British Raj, and the marginalization of religious and ethnic minorities and women in many countries worldwide, have been historically described as creating second-class citizenry.

By contrast, a resident alien or foreign national may have limited rights within a jurisdiction (such as not being able to vote, and having to register with the government), but is also given the law's protection, and is usually accepted by the local population. A naturalized citizen carries essentially the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen (a possible exception being ineligibility for certain public offices), and is also legally protected.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • second-class citizen — 1. a citizen, esp. a member of a minority group, who is denied the social, political, and economic benefits of citizenship. 2. a person who is not accorded a fair share of respect, recognition, or consideration: The boss treats us all like second …   Useful english dictionary

  • second-class citizen — 1. a citizen, esp. a member of a minority group, who is denied the social, political, and economic benefits of citizenship. 2. a person who is not accorded a fair share of respect, recognition, or consideration: The boss treats us all like second …   Universalium

  • second-class citizen — n. citizen who does not have as many privileges as other citizens …   English contemporary dictionary

  • (a) second-class citizen — someone who is treated as if they are less important than other people in society. Although she was married to an Australian, Louise couldn t get a work visa and it made her feel like a second class citizen …   New idioms dictionary

  • Second class — generally indicates a secondary level of service or importance. Specific uses of the term include:In Scouting:* Second Class Scout in Boy Scouting (Boy Scouts of America) * Second Class Scout in Ranks in the Boy Scouts of AmericaIn rail travel:*… …   Wikipedia

  • second-class — [sek′ənd klas′, sek′əndkläs′] adj. 1. of the class, rank, excellence, etc. next below the highest; of secondary quality 2. designating or of accommodations next below the best [a second class railway carriage ] ☆ 3. designating or of a class of… …   English World dictionary

  • Second-class — Sec ond class , a. Of the rank or degree below the best or highest; inferior; second rate; as, a second class house; a second class passage; a second class citizen. [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • second-class — (adj.) 1837, from SECOND (Cf. second) (adj.) + CLASS (Cf. class) (n.). Phrase second class citizen is recorded from 1942 …   Etymology dictionary

  • second-class — also second class 1) ADJ: ADJ n If someone treats you as a second class citizen, they treat you as if you are less valuable and less important than other people. Too many airlines treat our children as second class citizens. 2) ADJ: usu ADJ n If… …   English dictionary

  • second-class — adjective 1 (only before noun) considered to be less important than other people or things: second class citizen (=someone who is not as important as other people in society): Why should children be treated like second class citizens? 2 second… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English


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