May 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm #178865
I like Pew Charitable Trusts. I like the Pew Research Center and the Pew Internet and American Life and Pew American Cities projects. These guys know their stuff and provide a valuable service to advancing social, economic and political understanding and practices. I particularly enjoy reading the results of their research on these topics.
However, I was surprised by a recent report entitled “Civic Involvement in the Digital Age” (25 April 2013). Civics, public participation and governance and their connectivity to each other in the digital age are topics of personal interest. What surprised me was the heavy, almost exclusive emphasis on political activity Pew studied that was presented as civic involvement in this report.
How about you? Do you believe there are other activities citizens do, as individuals or in groups that you would consider to be civic involvement besides political activities? Please take a moment to respond to 20 statements of actions or practices a citizen may attempt and identify those you would consider represent “civic involvement.” This is an opinion poll. Of course we have to settle on a definition of “civic involvement,” and I present one in the poll. If you would like to add activities you believe constitute civic involvement that are not listed, please leave them as a comment to this post. Thank you.
May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm #178879
There are two broad ways in which a populace can be “engaged”:
- they can be engaged in making decisions about what ought to be done (political involvement, in the sense of politics as the art and science of policy, rather than politics as partisan warfare)
- they can be engaged in the active implementation of that which has been determined by broad consensus as worth doing (civic engagement)
We have a rink every winter in the nearby park. Not being a skater I had no interest in deciding that there ought to be a rink, but when a neigbour who is involved in such matters asked me to man the change/warm-up shed one Sunday, I agreed. He was both politically and civicly ivolved, and I was marginally civicly involved.
May 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm #178877
Thanks for the comment Mark. I like how you italicized ought. Public participation, formal or informal, is about volunteering; whether it be your time, your ideas or your person. Good analogy as well.
May 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm #178875
Took the quick poll… will need to bookmark poll and revisit the results in a couple of weeks (a sample of 5 is probably not a very good sample!)
Not certain that I would define very many of these activities as political involvement but that is my bias… IMO political involvement would include such activities as involvement in the election process,whether supporting candidates, or changes to laws, or bond issues. The only exceptions MIGHT be attendance at “Attending a meeting of your elected council members” and “Signing a petition” .
May 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm #178873
Henry – Thanks for joining in. Yes. The poll is pretty “fresh” I’d like to hear from more folks. Let me clarify that the items on the poll are to represent civic involvement (or not, based on your opinion), not political involvement –while some clearly are.
My premise with the post is that Pew (and others) appear to use political involvement and civic involvement interchangeably. My contention is that political involvement represents a form of civic involvement, but is not synonymous with it.
May 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm #178871
Not sure that I would even classify political involvement in the same genre/class as civic involvement, or even a subset. IMO completely different set of motivations and skills required for the two different activities
May 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm #178869
“…completely different set of motivations and skills required for the two different activities.”
Henry, I’d love to hear more of your thinking on this statement. Could you describe a situation or give an example? Thanks.
May 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm #178867
MY OPINION and Generalities are NOT the best way to proceed foward…
motivation for political involvement usually involves a desire to change the status quo.
motivation for civic involement usually involves a desire to improve the current situation
skills for political involvement usually requires very good to excellent communication skills and very little else.
Skills for civic involvement requires skills in the area you are involved in and doesn’t necessarily involve any but the very basic communication skills
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