Definition of active citizenship

Written by tom gresham
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Active citizenship is a term that refers to being an engaged member of a community. An active citizen is involved in some way in the operation or affairs of a particular community.


An active citizen's community can refer to a small or large community. A smaller community could refer to the municipality where a citizen resides or the school they attend or an organisation where they have a membership. A large community could be national or international in scope.

Core Concepts

The core concepts of active citizenship are citizenship, social capital and community development, according to Niamh Gaynor, an academic researcher. Gaynor said that active citizenship promotes solidarity, community and neighbourliness with its emphasis on the group rather than the individual.


An active citizen might serve a role in politics or government or it might refer to serving as an advocate for a particular cause or issue. An active citizen is informed and uses that information to serve as a proponent or opponent, engaging with issues rather than merely observing and commenting on them, according to a definition from the Council of Europe.

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