This paper reports on a study of what active citizenship means from the perspective of citizens who are active within third sector organisations. It is based on an empirical study involving 1,610 respondents across 11 towns in six countries. The study explored how active citizenship is manifested, by gathering data on attitudes towards social changes and the forms and practices of active citizenship. There are two major, and apparently contradictory themes emerging in the data. The first theme provides a portrait of active engagement, proactively, and sometimes oppositionally working for a better world. On the other hand, citizens by and large avoid active oppositional engagement in the political process. They prefer to work collaboratively with government and to work at the local level. This second theme can be understood as social maintenance, support for existing structures that facilitates community cohesion, while providing relief for the disadvantaged, oftenwith a conservative charity orwelfare orientation. Following thework of Touraine, the study revealed how citizens act at the local rather than the national level, and focus on concrete issues and interpersonal relations rather than political action aimed at wider policy change. While this form of citizenship action can reflect a conservative form of maintenance, it is equally a creative new form of association and mutual support.
Field of Research
169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified