How to Be a Citizen: Learning to Rely Less on Rules and More on Each Other by C.L. Skach ISBN:9781526655196

How to Be a Citizen by C.L. Skach

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‘When a renowned constitutional scholar explains why the law is not enough and is sometimes even the problem, we need to listen’ Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn
‘Skach leads us to re-examine the virtues of a good citizen, one whom people can respect and value as a member of their community’ Roger Myerson, Nobel Laureate in Economics
‘Skach shows why the only cure for global democracy’s present ills is us’ Erica Benner, philosopher and author of Adventures in Democracy

We believe that rules and laws are in place to protect us. They are what keep our societies from descending into chaos. Without them, how would we know our right from wrong, live comfortably in our communities and be good neighbours to one another?

C.L. Skach feels differently. She always believed in the strength of the law – she spent her career in some of the most fractured, war-torn corners of the world, reading and writing constitutions to help fix society. But as she sat alone in a sandbagged trailer in Baghdad after a rocket attack, she admitted what she’d been denying for years: a good society cannot be imposed from above. It comes from leaning less on formal rules, and more on each other.

Skach lays out six ideas, informed by everything from civil wars to civil rights struggles, bystander responsibility to mutual aid in the pandemic, to help us build small societies of our own. These ideas sometimes sound simple: share the vegetables from your garden, spend time on a park bench. But taken together they can amount to real, bottom-up change.

How to Be a Citizen is a hopeful handbook for a better world – one we can all help build together.

About the Author: C.L. Skach is Professor of Political and Legal Theory at the University of Bologna. She was previously a professor at King’s College London, the University of Oxford and Harvard University. She has taught constitutional law and government, conducted ethnographic and archival research and held visiting professorships on five continents. She divides her time between Oxford and Bologna.

04 Jul 2024

Additional information


Paperback / softback


Politics & government

Readership Level

General (US: Trade)



Publication Date

04 Jul 2024

How to Be a Citizen: Learning to Rely Less on Rules and More on Each Other by C.L. Skach ISBN 9781526655196

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