This article holds that ensuring the full sway of economic, social and cultural rights makes it possible to advance towards greater equality of opportunities, both for attaining well-being and for asserting differences in the field of identity. This development of the effective use of rights must be complemented with new forms of citizenship connected with the possibility of interaction with the media and greater participation in the knowledge-based society. Only in this way does it seem feasible to give an ethical foundation to social and development policies which have been deprived of ideological bases. In this state of affairs it is necessary to build a political culture which transcends the merely formal nature of procedures and translates political action into forms of communication between different actors. The cultural construct of democratic citizenship necessarily involves such a pact or contract, which must provide space for the voices of a broad range of social actors and must have a real capability to prescribe forms of reciprocity and recognition in such diverse areas as access to justice, to social services, to informed political debate, and to the expression of opinions in the communication media.