What is Civic Engagement?
The word civic relates to a town or city, and is especially relevant in the context of officials and administration. Civic engagement can be thought of as the actions and processes that go towards promoting an idea in a community, through political and nonpolitical methods. Civic engagement allows individuals to use their own and mobilize power to better engage audiences on issues that are relevant to civic life. This can range from volunteering at a political organization to voting in political elections. Civic engagement, however, is not just a one-sided effort. It is a working relationship between administrative and governmental officials and community members to better realize desired goals and plans for change.
A person who is civically engaged is aware of the needs of their community, and uses their own energy and power to uplift others. By recognizing present issues, a civically engaged person can be better able to take action to create positive change in the community in collaboration with local officials.
Civic Engagement vs. Political Participation
Civic engagement and political participation can be similar in a lot of ways. Political participation, simply put, is a citizen’s efforts to affect politics. This seems extremely similar to civic engagement, and is oftentimes used interchangeably in many cases. The main difference between the two is the necessary inclusion of a relationship with civic engagement - civic engagement encompasses the active, working relationship between an individual and the governing body to create change in the community. Political participation can be thought of as the activities and efforts, while civic engagement can be thought of as the relationships and conversations that come about because of such activities and efforts.