Are you a Global Citizen?

People today increasingly identify as global citizens rather than citizens of a single country, a BBC World Service survey has revealed. This trend is particularly strong in emerging economies, where citizens are more open to the outside world. But in Germany, fewer people feel they are global citizens than in 2001.

The polling agency GlobalScan – which conducted the survey for the BBC – asked 20,000 people in 18 countries. More than half of those questioned (56%) in emerging economies said they saw themselves as global citizens rather than nationals. In countries with growing economies, the figures were higher than this average: Nigeria (73%), China (71%), Peru (70%) and India (67%). While the trend in developed countries shows a decline.

What is a ‘global citizen’?

One of the problems with the BBC survey was the difficulty in defining the concept of a global citizen, leaving it open to interpretation by respondents. For some, global citizenship may refer to economic influence around the world. Others may see it as a ‘readiness’ to tackle global problems, although some may see it as a sense of togetherness – whether it’s global warming or inequality.

Global citizenship may also refer to easier communication in today’s age of connectedness and the ability to express opinions through social media. Some see it from the perspective of migration and movement, and indeed the world is currently witnessing the largest human migration since World War II. Clearly, it’s not just conflict and war that are to blame, but also rising prosperity that has made air travel more affordable for the middle class.

In developed countries, the concept of globalization seems to have taken a hit after the financial crisis of 2008. In Germany, for example, only 30% of respondents consider themselves global citizens. Russia, meanwhile, has the highest number of opposition to interracial marriage, with 43% of Russians opposed. While in Spain, only 5% are against it. Spain is also the country in Europe with the highest feeling of global citizenship.

Indonesia has the lowest feeling of citizenship at just 4%, and not because they feel they are global citizens. But many Indonesians have more of a local feeling, with more than half of respondents seeing their local community as most important in defining themselves. In general, religion plays a smaller role in self-identity than nationality, apart from in Pakistan where 43% of citizens see religion first.






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