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What Is Civic Participation? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Civic Participation?
  • 1:07 Political Involvement
  • 2:24 Non-political Involvement
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

This lesson discusses the importance of community involvement. Examples of different types of civic participation are included to help you understand ways we can be active in our communities. After the lesson, take a brief quiz to see what you have learned.

What Is Civic Participation?

Let's imagine that couple of thieves tried to break into a house in your neighborhood last night. Luckily the cops arrived and arrested the thieves before they were able to accomplish their goal. It makes you feel safer knowing that being a member of a community comes with certain privileges, such as being able to count on the local police force to enforce the laws that keep your community safe. Did you know that, as a community member, you assume a role in protecting community privileges? What would happen if the neighbor who noticed the thieves hadn't called the police? What would have been different if the thieves had chosen to obey the laws of the community or if breaking into a house wasn't against the law?

Civic participation is the way we involve ourselves within our community. The degree to which we engage ourselves relates to how much we make a difference in the lives of those around us. It is active involvement that focuses on the common good. This involvement can take place on a number of different levels ranging from obeying the laws of your community to helping make the laws.

Political Involvement

Have you ever considered running for public office? Did you vote in the last election? Were you one of the people who showed up at a community meeting discussing the possibility of a new road being built through town? If you could answer 'yes' to any of these questions, then you were involved in community politics in some way. Political involvement is any action you take that helps influence your local, state, or federal government.

We have already mentioned working for the government and voting, but let's look at some other examples of political involvement:

  • Writing a letter to your congressman
  • Obeying the law
  • Staying informed on political issues that impact your community
  • Paying taxes
  • Signing a petition

These are only a few examples of how we participate in our government through political involvement. It is also very important that we do these things, especially in a democratic government like we have in the United States. Our involvement is what allows our government to function properly. The less involved we are, the less our government can work for us and the fewer privileges we can expect to receive. For example, think about how the services provided by our government would change if no one paid taxes.

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