What Drives Active Citizens? Testing our assumptions through a comparative analysis of citizen data from seven countries
MetadataShow full item record
Document typeResearch report
This report investigates the characteristics of active citizens who raise their voices towards duty-bearers. First, we look at the demographics of people who raise their voices towards duty-bearers. Then, we investigate the various types of citizens' actions and which attitudes and norms active citizens hold.
Supporting citizens in raising their voices is one of the intervention strategies employed in the Strategic Partnership between Oxfam Novib, SOMO, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs called 'Towards a Worldwide Influencing Network' (from now on referred to as SP). In the SP programme, projects engage with citizens, often in some form of collective action (for example, signing a petition, contacting authorities, joining demonstrations). The objective is to gain a 'critical mass' of citizens who claim their rights and, in turn, pressure duty-bearers (governments and private-sector actors) to change their policies and practices. Such intervention strategies cultivate active citizenship and raise citizens' voices (particularly among marginalized groups).
This paper analyses who raises their voice and who refrains from raising their voice. The analyses rely on large-scale survey data that can be compared across projects. The data were collected in 2019–2020 within the SP from more than 4,600 respondents in Uganda, Vietnam, the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Myanmar, Burundi, Niger, and Cambodia. We focused on the socio-demographics of active citizens, feelings of efficacy, trust in various civil society actors, and attitudes and norms towards civil society organizations. We studied how these determinants related to active citizenship behaviour and whether that differed between men and women and across programmes and projects. Based on the analyses presented, several recommendations are made for other projects and programmes that aim to raise citizens' voices.