Today’s question: What are two examples of civic participation in the United States?
By Michael Ritter, assistant professor of political science at Washington State University in Pullman
Civic participation refers to various forms of political engagement. Perhaps the most straightforward is voting. But civic participation is more than just submitting a ballot. For example, the acceptable answers to this question on the U.S. Citizenship Test include not just voting, but also running for office, joining a political party, assisting with a political campaign, joining a civic or community group, contacting and expressing one’s concerns or viewpoints to an elected official, supporting an issue or policy, and writing to a newspaper.
The ability to participate in politics in so many ways is one of the cardinal features of American democracy, yet another important consideration is the extent to which one’s ability to participate is structured by individual as well as state-level institutional factors.
In their 1995 work “Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics,” political scientists Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry E. Brady developed a theoretical framework of political participation known as the civic voluntarism model. A key premise, supported by extensive empirical testing, is that individual political participation choices are shaped by how many politically relevant resources someone has (factors that have a causal impact on a person’s likelihood of engaging in various forms of political participation).