What is the difference between State and Citizen?


A study of exact relationship between state and citizen is the fundamental concern of political science. For state wants maximum authority and citizen wants maximum liberty.

However, it is impossible. Some sort of compromise has to be made between the two. Reasonable power and authority should be made available to the state for its smooth functioning. Reasonable liberty should be available to the citizen for the best development of his personality.

In this sense, both state and citizen are not opposed to each other. On the other hand, they are made for each other. The aim of the state is to provide good environment to the citizen for the development of his personality. The aim of the citizen is to enjoy reasonable liberty within the state.


Hence, the state is the larger copy of the citizens and the interest of citizens is not in conflict with the state. The citizen depends on the state not only for safety, law and order alone but also for facilities like the post and telegraph, communication, railway, education, etc.

The citizen enjoys a special position in the state. Every one living within the territory of a state is not its citizen. A citizen is one who enjoys both civil and political rights which are guaranteed and recognized by the state. He can go to a court of law if some of these rights (Fundamental Rights) are denied to him. He is loyal to the state. He is inspired by certain duties towards the state.

In a word, rights and duties define the relationship between the state and the citizen. Moreover, he regards state as his “mother land”. In addition, he is ever prepared to sacrifice his life for the sake of his motherland.

The role of natural as well as naturalized citizen towards the stale has become a hot issue today. In the USA. the naturalized citizen are debarred from holding the highest office of the state. But in India, there is no such distinction between the natural and naturalized citizens. However, some Indians advocate for depriving the naturalized citizens of their right to hold the highest office of the state.


Another aspect of citizenship is that citizens are expected to participate in the affairs of the State. It is in this sense that a distinction is made between a ‘citizen’ and ‘subject’. In non-democratic states like the absolute monarchy, the people who were within the preview of the laws of states were known as subjects.

They were bound to obey the decisions of the state, but they had little say in the making of such decisions. Citizenship in a democracy grants its citizens rights to participate in the affairs of the state. Right to vote in elections is an inseparable and important right of citizens in democracies.

Every citizen, however, cannot participate to the same extent in all affairs of the State. The extent of participation is often regarded as an important feature of a democracy. Good citizens obey the laws of the state and punitive actions are taken against those who do not obey laws of the state. Laski has rightly said that the ‘citizens’ sense of justice’ makes a good state.

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