Gov: Civic Participation

Civic participation is essential in a democracy. Citizens who get involved in civic and community groups help to strengthen civil society. At the same time, they tend to become more engaged in the political process. Most people fall into one of four broad categories of civic engagement. Electoral specialists are those whose main engagement is through the election process. People in this group vote, volunteer in political campaigns, and try to persuade others to vote as well. Civic specialists focus on improving their communities and helping others. They join local civic groups, support nonprofit organizations, and take part in fundraising activities for worthy causes. Dual activists are made up of people who engage in both electoral and civic activities. They may be found passing out leaflets in a political campaign one day and volunteering in a shelter the next. The disengaged is made up of people who are not significantly engaged in civic life. They don’t vote or pay attention to civic affairs.

Civic engagement takes many forms:

  • writing a press release
  • writing a letter to the editor
  • communicating with a public official
  • organizing a letter writing campaign
  • testifying before a public body
  • creating an issue ad or web site
  • giving an interview or speech
  • writing and circulating a petition
  • creating and conducting an opinion survey
  • joining a campaign or interest group
  • organizing a fundraiser
  • sponsoring a ballot initiative or referendum
  • organizing a protest or boycott
  • running for public office
  • starting an interest group



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