Is Civic Engagement Important?

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Ronnie L. Smith

Portland State University 

Intro Civic Engagement PA-311U 

Fall 2020

Professor Erin Elliott

Is Civic Engagement Important Final
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Abstract

Civic engagement is the activities of a group or individuals undertaken to address the public’s concerns. Civic engagement may include communities coming together or individuals progressing alone in political and non -political actions to promote and protect the public values in making changes in the community. Through the continuous engagement of citizens in civic engagement, they have an opportunity to feel comfortable moving along with the community’s activities. Such activities include voter registration, availing equal opportunities to all citizens, and the equal distribution of resources.

This study discusses the need for community-level civic engagement, civic engagement essentials, and the factors promoting civic engagement. Civic engagement creates more opportunities for the public, thus determining the factors affecting them at the community level. The study also identifies that some of the factors that influence civic engagement include the community’s traditional beliefs that abide them to the community’s kindness, the hearty-strong civic organizations by the nonprofit organizations. Additionally, different perspectives of the community as a whole in the public sphere also influence civic engagement. Finally, another factor is the government’s continued support through the support and formulation of policies regulating civic engagement activities.

The study concludes on the importance of civic engagement and the essential to civic engagement, which includes; civic engagement is a path to earning social capital from the public since it impacts the public’s interactions. Additionally, civic engagement helps the community respond to emergencies and disasters, and it’s also a community strategy outlined to address challenges affecting public progress. The essentials to a strong civic engagement incorporate accountability, strengthening the community’s traditional and religious groups as peacemakers, and citizen participation.

 

Is Civic Engagement Important?

Civic engagement is described as a collective or individual act formulated and identified to focus on issues in the community. Civic engagement uses broader and many forms to tackle the problems. This could be the Involvement of an organization or voluntarism by an individual to electoral engagement. It may consist of many actions such as directly confronting a problem, cooperating with others in the society to solve a problem, and working with organizations of democracy in the community. Civic engagement should ensure that every single citizen has the opportunity to comfortably and securely participate among all the civic engagement functions in the community. This paper discusses the importance of civic engagement and the crucial essential factors that influence civic engagement in the community.


Background

Civic engagement was dated back to the 19th century. The origin resulted from the evolution of work due to the immigrants’ needs in urban areas. It was also founded in universities and colleges due to the settlement house movement. In 1931, Jane Addams came up with the foundation she used to bring together communities and won her the Nobel Peace prize (GPO, n.d)). The ADP (American democratic protest) was introduced to involve the public in civic engagement. It was made to involve university and college students in advocacy and protest activities and Involvement in meetings in the community (Morgan et al., 2015).). Civic engagement established more opportunities for the public to decide the factors affecting them in their neighborhood. Greatest civic participation activities include; voter registration, equal distribution of resources, and equal opportunities (Skocpol, 2020).

Factors Influencing Civic Engagement

Several factors determine the effectiveness of civic engagement in the communities in the United States. Many factors influence civic engagement positively. Some of these factors include the community’s traditional beliefs, which connects them to humanity or philanthropy towards an individual or the whole society (Putnam, 1995). The other factor influencing civic engagement in the community is the formation of strong civic organizations and nonprofit organizations.


The other factors is the different perspectives and viewpoints of the community in the public sphere. Additionally, the government also influences civic engagement consecutively by supporting the services and formulating policies to regulate the services (Dahl, 2005). Other factors, like social concerns from the community, which are pressing civic engagement, also influence the activities. All these factors determine whether civic engagement will benefit the public or not.


Importance of Civic Engagement to The Public

Civic engagement is a way of earning social capital from the public. Social capital is the only title for all the impacts of interaction in public. The significant benefits of social capital in the community include increased safety, social and political education, decreased crime, decreased illiteracy, and socioeconomic and health disparities. The gaining of social capital in the community depends on people’s behavior (Dahl, 2005). Social capital can also be lost, depending on the behavior. In the community, it increases the bargaining power of the public. It keeps the community safe and also improves the social equality of the community.

Civic engagement is a community strategy framed and put in practice to address all the challenges that affect public progress. An example of the challenges addressed by civic engagement is school dropout and illiteracy in the community. It strengthens schools and the education system in the community (Dent, 2008). As a result, it improves literacy in the public and the Country as a whole. Civic engagement also improves the efficiency of the energy in the community and safeguarding the energy available. It is achieved by ensuring that the resources and the environment are kept safe away from destroyers. The safeguarding of resources improves many departments, such as health (Hannah, 2020). It also expands the community economic system by creating job opportunities and improving several families’ income levels.


Civic engagement helps the community prepare and respond to emergencies and disasters in the Country. They achieve this by the government’s support and policies to defend the community from harm and lower the community’s risks and vulnerability to a disaster (Dent, 2008). Support may also come from non-governmental organizations and nonprofit making organizations.


The other importance of civic engagement is the improvement and strengthening of democracy. People who support direct democracy claim that the use of paper ballot initiative has strengthened American democracy since the progressive era. It is achieved by encouraging a more active form of the citizenry (Dent, 2008). Since the progressive era, the supporters of democracy show that ballot use involves involving community members in policymaking. Involving the public members in making policies that affect and improve the [their] quality of life, which in turn improves their interest in politics.


Civic engagement in the United States helped progressive reformers form a hierarchical, bureaucratic, and rule-based organization type in the administration. The aim was to prevent current reformers, corruption in politics (Obama, 2006). They also aimed at supporting the less hierarchical type of governmental organizations to increase the civic participation of members of the public to enhance the government response to the policymaking and demands by the public.


The model of participation in the United States suggests that civic engagement leads to improvement and strengthening of relationships between citizens and policymakers. As a result, it has improved policymaking quality and openness (Cronon, 1998). They suggest this is the core element in forming a moral government. According to this model, participation in e-government, digital democracy, strong democracy, and deliberative democracy increase their effectiveness when there is strong civic engagement. These expand the circle of Involvement of the public in policymaking. It also helps policymakers to get new information and ideas from the community to make policies.


The next importance of civic engagement is that it improves and builds the public’s trust in their government and strengthens the community’s civic capacity. For the people to make the government function for the citizens’ interest, it needs to foster individual and collective participation in decision-making (Cronon, 1998). Civic engagement enables the citizens to decide on the issues that affect them by direct voting, and this gives the public interest in participating in politics


According to Salamon (2012), civic engagement and democracy have increased voter turnout. This has improved voter turnout by three percent more than those states which do not practice civic engagement. Civil society members push individuals to the polls, encourage creating policies that assist in solving social issues, and help address the underlying problems with American democracy. Civic education allows the establishment of democratic infrastructure. Voters are informed regarding policy differences, thus increasing their turnout. The practice encourages millennials to vote for the issues that lead to their unity mainly. Civic engagement also involves civic health to inform people about the need to keep health practices at all the time.


According to Salamon (2012), citizens are the main beneficiaries of civic engagement and direct democracy. Economic and social groups also benefit from civic engagement due to their members’ democracy and policymaking process. The members will contribute to the process of making policies for the benefit of the groups. An additional importance of civic engagement is that citizens living in states with this type of engagement will feel independent (Cronon, 1998). Ballot brings voters to a closer place with broad affairs, allowing them to become more sovereign in infancy with facts. Ballots helped the citizens to make a more politically and engaged, informed, and the self-confident electorate.


Through civic engagement, middle school-aged youths have been connected with businesses and economic backgrounds, nonprofit organizations, and adult volunteers. Through this, the youths can realize their responsibility in the community and provide services to the community ( Legislative Policy and Research Office, 2017). Civic engagement emphasizes work done by volunteers.


Civic engagement improves political education in the community and Country as a whole. It also improves the community’s energy efficiency and safeguards the community’s energy (Levinson, 2018). It helps the legislators, citizens, and voters to realize they are free and independent since it will bring them in touch with vast affairs.


Essentials of Civic Engagement

To make a strong civic engagement, it has to incorporate some factors in their system of governance. These include accountability and citizen participation. Accountability is the key focus for future direction, which should be put in a nearer focus. Other essential factors are youth, human rights, and political participation (Sirianni, 2009). This should be central to the development plan. The Involvement of young men and young women in policymaking plays a vital role in ensuring that the youths’ interests and the community’s social groups are well addressed.


The other essential factors in promoting civic engagement include strengthening the community’s traditional and religious groups since they are the peacemakers. Ensure easy access to justice for any violence and injustice to the women (Uslaner & Brown, 2014). Making sustainable developmental goals in the community is an important way of achieving civic engagement.


Conclusion

Civic engagement is a collective or individual act that is formulated and identified to address issues in public. This paper has discussed the importance of civic education in the community and why it is important. It has also discussed what is essential in the community to ensure civic engagement and factors influencing civic engagement. Many factors influence this civic engagement positively. Some of these factors include traditional beliefs and religious beliefs. The importance of civic engagement is collective policymaking involving the government and the citizens. There are essential factors that ensure strong civic engagement. They include accountability and citizen participation, the Involvement of young men and young women in policymaking, and strengthening the community’s traditional and religious groups. Some civic engagement practices include; voter registration, equal distribution of resources, and equal opportunities for all. The activities usually help define a society and the responsibilities of each person. Generally, civic education is crucial for all people in a country.


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References

Cronon, W. (1998). “Only Connect...” The Goals of a Liberal Education. The American Scholar, 67(4), 73-80.


Dahl, R. A. (2005). What political institutions does large-scale democracy require? Political Science Quarterly, 120(2), 187-197.


Dent, J. (2008). Civic capacity and community response to government action: The endangered species act and state water law in the Methow and Walla Walla basins in the Pacific Northwest. Intl Journal of Public Administration, 31(3), 262-276.


GPO, (n.d). The Constitution of the United States of America.


Hannah-Jones, N. (2019). Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true. The New York Times.


Legislative Policy and Research Office (LPRO). (2017). Local and regional governments.


Levinson, M. L. (2014). Citizenship and civic education. Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy.


Morgan, D. F., Shinn, C. W., & Cook, B. J. (2015). The foundations of new public governance. New Public Governance: A Regime-Centered Perspective, 3-12.


Obama, B. (2006). The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on reclaiming the American dream.New York: Crown. Three Rivers Press,


Putnam, R. D. (1995). (1995a). Bowling alone: America” s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6, 65-78.


Salamon, L. M. (2012). The resilient sector: The state of nonprofit America. Brookings Institution Press.


Sirianni, C. (2009). Investing in democracy: Engaging citizens in collaborative governance. Brookings Institution Press.


Skocpol, T. (2020). Voice and inequality: The transformation of American civic democracy. Perspectives on Politics, 2(1), 3-20.


Uslaner, E. M., & Brown, M. (2014). Inequality, trust, and civic engagement. American politics research, 33(6), 868-894.

 


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