overview article on civic engagement

Newly out this weekend is: Levine, P. 2015. Civic Engagement. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2015), 1–7.


Civic engagement is usually measured as a set of concrete activities, from voting to protesting, that individuals undertake in order to sustain or improve their communities. Higher rates of civic engagement generally correlate with desirable social outcomes. Education and socioeconomic status predict whether individuals participate, but programs that recruit and organize disadvantaged people are effective at boosting their civic engagement. Although it is valuable to know the causes and consequences of these behaviors, the ideal of civic engagement is intrinsically normative, connected to basic debates about what constitutes a good society and a meaningful human life. In the future, civic engagement research should not only be an empirical investigation into concrete behaviors but also a reorientation of research throughout the liberal arts to serve civic ends. That will require more fruitful combinations of empirical, normative, and strategic thinking.

(The uncorrected page proofs are available here.)

This entry was posted in civic theory on by .

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.