Journal of Civil Society vol:3 issue:2 pages:101-118
This paper investigates how broad processes of modernization affect individuals’ relations to the civil sphere. It ﬁrst introduces a model of civic involvement as a system of expectations between participants and associations. Next, the issue of change is explored. It is argued that recent social transformations, such as individualization, globalization and technology changes, undermine classic notions of civil society participation. Old types of involvement vanish, while new ones emerge. We investigate in more detail how macro-changes affect three core models of civic involvement: as a member, a volunteer and a citizen. Each model holds particular relations between adherents and associations. The conventional understandingof each model is examined in the light of ongoing processes of dis- and re-embedment of civic involvement. The paper is based on secondary analyses of literature concerned with the issue of change within the civic ﬁeld. The ﬁndings can be summarized in four points. First, we observe a shift from face-to-face interaction in long-lasting civic groups towards mediated interaction within networks in ﬂux. Falling rates of participation seem to be followed by new types outside traditional measures of civic engagement. Secondly, individuals seem to move from value-based to consumer-based relations within the civic sphere. Associations, on her hand, increasingly present her activities as ‘products’. This means that civic engagement, more often than before, is mediated in ways usually associated with the for-proﬁt market. Thirdly, civic engagement is shifting from diffuse horizontal involvement to centrally coordinated activities. ‘Amateurism’ gradually becomes replaced by professional standards, administered by staff-led bodies, in close connection with central authorities. As a fourth conclusion, we observe a shift from an engagement mediated by associations to a direct involvement, or engagement mediated by structures that usually are not deﬁned as civic ones.