What Do We Mean By “Civic Engagement”

by Richard P. Adler & Judy Goggin in the Journal of Transformative Education Vol. 3 No. 3.

Civic engagement refers to the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future. This term has been used to date primarily in the context of younger people. But in the past few years, a new movement has emerged to promote greater civic engagement by older adults. This article begins by reviewing existing definitions of civic engagement and concludes that there is no single, widely agreed-upon meaning for the term. The second part of the article looks at attempts to measure how civic engagement is being practiced by Americans of different ages and finds that patterns of civic engagement differ dramatically between younger and older generations. The final part of the article describes some recent initiatives aimed at expanding the civic en- gagement of older adults

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