Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state or an association of states. It is normally synonymous with the term nationality although the latter term may also refer to ethnic connotations. Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life. A person who does not have citizenship in any state is said to be stateless.
Nationality is often used as a synonym for citizenship in English – notably in international law – although the term is sometimes understood as denoting a person's membership of a nation. In some countries, e.g. the United States, "nationality" and "citizenship" have different meanings, and it is possible to be a national of the country but not a citizen.
Many thinkers point to the concept of citizenship beginning in the early city-states of ancient Greece, although others see it as primarily a modern phenomenon dating back only a few hundred years and, for mankind, that the concept of citizenship arose with the first laws. Polis meant both the political assembly of the city-state as well as the entire society. Citizenship has generally been identified as a western phenomenon. There is a general view that citizenship in ancient times was a simpler relation than modern forms of citizenship, although this view has come under scrutiny. The relation of citizenship has not been a fixed or static relation, but constantly changed within each society, and that according to one view, citizenship might "really have worked" only at select periods during certain times, such as when the Athenian politician Solon made reforms in the early Athenian state.
Historian Geoffrey Hosking in his 2005 Modern Scholar lecture course suggested that citizenship in ancient Greece arose from an appreciation for the importance of freedom. Hosking explained: