He defines the state as a compound made up of citizens, and citizenship is determined by the state's constitution rather than any association for residence or military purposes. A constitution is "the organization of a polis [state], in respect of its offices generally, but especially in respect of that particular office which is sovereign in all issues" (Aristotle, 110). That sovereign office effectively is the constitution because it is the means through which the constitution is implemented. No constitution, therefore, can be truly just if it is administered unjustly.
Each state drafts a constitution to regulate the distribution of political power among its inhabitants and thereby determines the duties of citizenship. Aristotle's definition of citizenship requires each citizen to participate actively in the administration of justice and the holding of office, and each person is a citizen only so long as he performs in either capacity. To build the excellence of a good citizen, the state must provide the opportunity for the citizen to have experience of ruling as well as of being ruled. Therefore, non-office holders, such as Aristotle's example of mechanics, should not and could not be citizens because they cannot achieve excellence; they will never have experience of ruling. Instead of being necessary conditions of statehood, as are citizens, non-office holders are merely integral pa