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The Rules of Engagement

The Rules of Engagement

(p.24) Chapter 2 The Rules of Engagement
Attention Deficit Democracy
Ben Berger
Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the shortcomings of the term “civic engagement” and argues that it must be reconceptualized as its constituent parts: political, social, and moral engagement—concepts that are better equipped to clarify and enhance our discourse about making democracy work. It shows how and why the term “civic engagement” quickly rose to prominence, illustrating its meteoric rise and the confusion that accompanies its widespread use. It contends that civic engagement has remained popular, influential, and ultimately misleading, in part due to the word “engagement,” which entails a combination of activity and attention, an investment of energy and a consciousness of purpose. The chapter also distinguishes among political engagement, social engagement, and moral engagement—distinctions that tend to be neglected in civic engagement scholarship—and provides examples of each type. Finally, it differentiates among engagement undertaken at the local, national, and international level, each of which involves unique challenges, commitments, and rewards.

Keywords:   civic engagement, democracy, energy, political engagement, social engagement, moral engagement

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