By Susanna D. Wing (auth.)

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Before exploring the concept of constitutional literacy, which refers to the citizens’ understanding of the accountability of the state to the people, as well as their rights and duties, it is valuable to first examine notions of citizenship. Citizenship and its Meanings It is not surprising that citizenship with its entanglement of membership, identity, allegiance, sentiment, and obligation is a contested concept. 28 Today, liberal perceptions of citizenship have grown more inclusive; however, questions remain concerning the protection of minority rights.

By contrast with juristic conceptions of constitutionalism, structuralist conceptions are imbued with little spiritual content. 23 Adherents to both structuralist and juristic schools of thought argue that the validity of the state will be determined by the people. 24 McIlwain viewed constitutionalism as an ongoing dialectic. Central to a dialectic between people and power is an awareness of the rules on the part of the people. This was seldom the case in Africa where centralized government predominated and overwhelming percentages of the population could not read and learn these rules for themselves.

Certainly there were concerns about how participatory the process was (excluding women, landless individuals, and African Americans to name a few) but the public debate resulted in the foundation for the Bill of Rights. Antifederalist claims on the problems with the constitution were summarized in the Bill of Rights. The constitution was adopted and the first act of the first Congress was to adopt the Bill of Rights that came from the concerns raised by the public over the constitution itself. S.

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