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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

Indicator Source Countries
Proportion of public who have listened to radio news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’ Afrobarometer 16
Proportion of public who have watched TV news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’ Afrobarometer 16
Proportion of public who have read newspaper news ‘in the last day’ or ‘several times in the last week’ Afrobarometer 16
Civicus civil society rating — Structure Civicus 37
Civicus civil society rating — Environment Civicus 37
Civicus civil society rating — Values Civicus 37
Civicus civil society rating — Impact Civicus 37
Radios per capita International Telecommunications Union 197
Radios per household International Telecommunications Union  
Proportion of public who ‘have’ or ‘would be prepared’ to take part in a peaceful demonstration Latinobarometer 19
Proportion of public who ‘have’ or ‘would be prepared’ to sign a petition Latinobarometer 18
Respondent says they use the radio to inform themselves about politics Latinobarometer 18
Respondent says they use the newspaper to inform themselves about politics Latinobarometer 18
Respondent says they use the television to inform themselves about politics Latinobarometer 18
Percentage of respondents who watch TV news a great deal or very much Latinobarometer 18
Percentage of respondents who read newspaper news a great deal or very much Latinobarometer 18
Percentage of respondents who listen to radio news a great deal or very much Latinobarometer 18
Average number of days spent watching TV news, per week Latinobarometer 19
Average number of days spent reading newspaper news, per week Latinobarometer 19
Average number of days spent listening to radio news, per week Latinobarometer 19
Density of international organisation secretariats of international non-governmental organisations in given country Global Civil Society Project 175
Extent to which organisations and individuals in each country are members of INGOs, number of INGOs with members in that country Global Civil Society Project 176
Percentage of the workforce employed in the NGO sector SAIS 36
Newspapers per capita UNESCO 107
Proportion of respondents who either 'have done' or 'might' sign a petition World Values Surveys, Latinobarometer 89
Proportion of respondents who either 'have done' or 'might' join a boycott World Values Surveys 81
Proportion of respondents who 'have done' or 'might' attend a peaceful demonstration World Values Surveys, Afrobarometer, Latinobarometer 96
Proportion of respondents who have used a daily newspaper in the last week to find out what is going on in the world World Values Surveys 22
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 world World Values Surveys 22
Proportion of respondents who have used printed magazines in the last week to find out what is going on in the world World Values Surveys 22
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 world World Values Surveys 22
Proportion of respondents who have used books in the last week to find out what is going on in the world World Values Surveys 22
Proportion of respondents who have used internet or email in the last week to find out what is going on in the world World Values Surveys 22