Civic Activism

Civic activism refers to the social norms, organisations, and practices which facilitate greater citizen involvement in public policies and decisions. These include access to civic associations, participation in the media, and the means to participate in civic activities such as nonviolent demonstration or petition. Civic activism is essential in ensuring that public institutions function in an accountable and transparent manner, with participation and representation for all.

Achieving accountable governance requires not only responsive elites, but also active citizens – and active citizens, in turn, require participation in civic associations, local and international, access to the media, and the means to engage in activities such as nonviolent demonstration or petition. Where there is a strong civic culture of political engagement and participation, countries are more likely to have effective service delivery, reduced corruption, and faster and more equitable economic growth.

ISD measure the strength of civic activism by using data on the extent of engagement in civic activities such as signing petitions or joining peaceful demonstrations, studies of the organisation and effectiveness of civil society, access to sources of media information, levels of civic awareness and information of political matters and concerns, and the extent to which civil society organisations are connected to broader, international networks of civic activity. 

Data Used

IndicatorSourceCountries
Proportion of public who have listened to radio news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’Afrobarometer16
Proportion of public who have watched TV news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’Afrobarometer16
Proportion of public who have read newspaper news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’Afrobarometer16
Civicus civil society rating — StructureCivicus37
Civicus civil society rating — EnvironmentCivicus37
Civicus civil society rating — ValuesCivicus37
Civicus civil society rating — ImpactCivicus37
Radios per capitaInternational Telecommunications Union197
Radios per householdInternational Telecommunications Union 
Proportion of public who ‘have’ or ‘would be prepared’ to take part in a peaceful demonstrationLatinobarometer19
Proportion of public who ‘have’ or ‘would be prepared’ to sign a petitionLatinobarometer18
Respondent says they use the radio to inform themselves about politicsLatinobarometer18
Respondent says they use the newspaper to inform themselves about politicsLatinobarometer18
Respondent says they use the television to inform themselves about politicsLatinobarometer18
Percentage of respondents who watch TV news a great deal or very muchLatinobarometer18
Percentage of respondents who read newspaper news a great deal or very muchLatinobarometer18
Percentage of respondents who listen to radio news a great deal or very muchLatinobarometer18
Average number of days spent watching TV news, per weekLatinobarometer19
Average number of days spent reading newspaper news, per weekLatinobarometer19
Average number of days spent listening to radio news, per weekLatinobarometer19
Density of international organisation secretariats of international non-governmental organisations in given countryGlobal Civil Society Project175
Extent to which organisations and individuals in each country are members of INGOs, number of INGOs with members in that countryGlobal Civil Society Project176
Percentage of the workforce employed in the NGO sectorSAIS36
Newspapers per capitaUNESCO107
Proportion of respondents who either ‘have done’ or ‘might’ sign a petitionWorld Values Surveys, Latinobarometer89
Proportion of respondents who either ‘have done’ or ‘might’ join a boycottWorld Values Surveys81
Proportion of respondents who ‘have done’ or ‘might’ attend a peaceful demonstrationWorld Values Surveys, Afrobarometer, Latinobarometer96
Proportion of respondents who have used a daily newspaper in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22
Proportion of respondents who have used news broadcasts on radio or TV in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22
Proportion of respondents who have used printed magazines in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22
Proportion of respondents who have used in depth reports on radio or TV in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22
Proportion of respondents who have used books in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22
Proportion of respondents who have used internet or email in the last week to find out what is going on in the worldWorld Values Surveys22