Does civic participation stimulate political activity?

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Activists are the engines of social movements. What spurs their activism? This article scrutinizes the role of civic participation in stimulating political action. We examine how the type of voluntary organization, scope of involvement and intensity of activity relate to political activity. Contrary to existing studies that collapse noninstitutional political activities into a single measure, we differentiate collective activities from individualized activities, enabling us to investigate how the type, intensity and scope of civic participation differentially stimulate political activities. Our sample included 14,787 participants in 71 street demonstrations. We show that membership and interest in activist organizations stimulates political activity, especially for those actively involved and especially for collective noninstitutionalized activities, while membership in leisure organizations only stimulates individualized political activities, but not collective activities. We therefore conclude that civic participation is a multifaceted phenomenon associated with various political activities in different ways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)286-314
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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