What qualifies a person as an active citizen?
An active citizen is one who, and this is the essence of active citizenship, takes agency. When one takes agency, this is implied: "I want to and I am going to..." It should be remembered that the concept of teamwork and serving is the foundation for being an active citizen. Taking agency serves as a clear indication of having an interest in a situation, i.e. another qualifying factor of an active citizen. Herewith, it is being educated about what the current the current issues are that affect people , and finding the causes for these issues and of course addressing these issues, but only on the basis of being educated about the specific situation. With reference to the article posted in the week on active citizenship, based on Mr Gutto's point that South Africans have the inability to realise that, with rights comes responsibilities (and are uneducated as such); I would like to comment. I agree to this statement but however I am of the opinion that it should be remembered that in South Africa or perhaps other countries, education about rights and responsibilities (i.e. active citizenship included) occurs at broadly two levels:
At a political/ leadership level whereby the leaders of the country put systems in place to educate the citizens about being an active citizen and business enterprises, whether it be for profit gains or not.
Education at a societal level. This includes, inter alia, education at home, in religious groups and cultural norms about being a citizen and to mention the least, what it actually means.
As I see it, education dependent on political leadership and organisations can only accomplish so much because the other factor contributing to the attitude of active participation, is quite influential and we might not realise it.
This brings me to posing a question and looking into the nonchalant attitude that many people have to making contribution to society. To be honest these people live amongst us that, other than paying taxes and voting, have no interest societal issues. I read an article in research for this piece and the author sees the reason for the nonchalant attitude toward being an active citizen being rooted in apartheid. It is explained (just to summarise) that the people of SA have gotten comfortable with the fact that the government has to provide for all of them because the apartheid government has neglected to provide for all of them, as one of a few reasons. Here is the link to that article, I suggest that you read it: http://ddp.org.za/information-material/articles/the-struggle-for-active-citizenship
Additionally, to be an active citizen means that one participates in at least most levels of society as the capacity of the person allows.
Active citizenship is also about partaking in political aspects of the society.
The different forms of active citizenship are, inter alia:
Is active citizenship beneficial to democracy?
Yes, active citizenship is beneficial to democracy. It should be remembered what the definition of democracy is.
A democratic nation is one where the people have, simply put, a say in who shall represent them in serving them. When a deficiency occurs in the representation of the people, the agency to improve their circumstances , in their capacity will then bridge the gap. Here lies the importance of active citizenship.