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Gendered and Sexual Citizenship

Scholars assert that even if concepts of citizenship may be based on distinct concepts including the Marshallian, communitarian, or consumerism, citizenship is always gendered and sexualized (Richardson, 1998, 30). Richardson affirms this fact on the basis of the fact that citizenship stands on the principle of heterosexuality so that legal protection is not available to gays and lesbians from the discrimination and harassment they face in society and the reduced political and social rights which they enjoy, with regard to education, employment and even housing policies and programs (Richardson, 1998). 
The discourses of citizenship based on consumer rights can be dated back to the latter part of the eighteenth century and the initial parts of the nineteenth century when slave produced sugar began to be abolished by some women in Great Britain owing to their understanding of the similarities in which they were politically excluded and were unable to project any rights of petitioning legally (Midgley, 1992; Sussman, 2000). Using their consumerism powers, women began to assert their rights and claims as citizens of the nation until the latter part of the nineteenth century when consumerism began to be accepted as a new facet of female citizenship which began to be expanded with the promotion and building of Victorian shopping areas and departmental shops (Jubas, 2007). Particularly for women, consumerism was a dimension through which they could assert their rights and practices since they were completely in charge of the tasks of shopping for domestic supplies not only for themselves but also for their families, whom they served silently without any financial bargains (Jubas, 2007). The role and impact of women in the economy was slowly and steadily recognized only through the power that these women wielded in the English economic market through their roles as consumers in the marketplace which in a way enabled women to exercise their rights and powers in the financial markets (Jubas, 2007). 
Even in the United States of America, the rights of women as consumer citizens occurred in a series of stages which began with the progressive era following the First World War and recognized consumers as vital aspects of economy of a country (Jacobs, 2003). Consumers began to be recognized as customers and this led to the formation of consumer associations of activism, in which women played leading roles and stressed for fair prices and other important worker policies such as living wages. Other citizen rights were also granted to consumers especially important ones such as maximum working hours and minimum wage policies (Jacobs, 2003).
The second stage of recognition of women occurred primarily during and after the Second World War when the focus shifted from customer consumers to citizen consumers as women began to call for joint rights in an environment of job redundancy and paucity (Cohen, 2003).  The third stage was one which stressed policies and programs for citizens to own homes, when housing became an important commodity in the financial markets. However, policies and programs of loan providers and money lenders have favoured males to females which made it easier and simpler for men to purchase property as compared to women who continue to find it difficult in acquiring homes and other commodities in the financial and economic markets (Cohen, 2003). Thus, social exclusion has been a common phenomenon with regard to consumer citizenship and researchers have noted that discourses of consumerism and citizenship often make hollow and meaningless promises of opportunity and fairness to the entire community irrespective of gender, class or race (Jacobs, 2003). One of the most comprehensive accounts of gender bias in consumer citizenship have been affirmed by David Bell and Jon Binne who clearly assert that the foundation of all citizenship is based on the tenets of sexuality which clearly denotes that citizens are not equal (Robson and Kessler, 2008).
            Consumer citizenship is the term coined to describe the role of individuals and their active participation in the development and improvement of the entire society within which they function through their consumption related behaviours and attitudes (Thoresen, 2002). Citizenship of consumers assumes a greater role and importance due to the several factors which come into play when consumers engage in buying behaviours for instance, ethical issues, perception of diversity in addition to the global environmental and considerations which are considered while securing goods and services for personal needs (Thoresen, 2002). The term citizenship has been thus far associated with political belonging and traditionally denotes the sense of belonging to a particular country. However, with changing times and rapid industrialization, citizenship has come to be associated with consumerism and consumption.
Urban identities and governments of modern society believe in the concept of citizenship as an important aspect of civil society. Governments of conservative societies like the United Kingdom view citizenship as one in which the consumers as “active” individuals who assumes responsibility for their lives and support themselves by exercising their rights and choices by virtue of the citizenship through their ability and power to purchase and consumption of goods and services available in the market place (Imrie et al., 1996). However, consumer citizenship fails to be a democratic term as it appears to be and is filled with social inequalities prevalent in communities and societies since times immemorial. It is for this reason that the ‘consumer citizenship’ is a flawed concept and has had a gendered approach since times immemorial, which continues in the modern globalised world as well.
Scholars define citizenship as the compromising of the vital rights which are crucial for the freedom and liberty of an individual as opposed to the right of participation in the exercise of political power which empowers people (Marshall, 1950).  Marshall (1950) conceptualizes citizenship as the right to economic and social welfare and security so that individuals lead a civilized life in accordance with the standards of living which are prevalent in their respective societies and communities. Citizenship scholars and researchers assert that citizenship should not be delineated from the civic responsibility of individuals towards the society within which they function and are constantly engaged in several behaviours of consumerism and consumption to suit and support their needs and requirements in their respective societies (Scammell, 2000). As such citizenship is deeply associated with consumerism and has been coined to for the new term, ‘consumer citizenship’.

Consumer citizenship implies the association of citizens due to their consumer related behaviours, which in turn has a direct and crucial impact on the milieu within which they operate, which in turn necessitates responsibility towards the environment and the society as a concerned citizen. The choice and nature of consumerism and goods available to citizens helps to create a sense of belonging through practices of consumption, which directly influences larger domains of economy, advertising, environment, society, advertisement etc.  Even though consumer citizenship is a popular topic, most literature has focussed on the male accounts and theoretical knowledge of citizenship, ignoring and overlooking the role and importance of women (Zukin and Maguire, 2004).
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