Civic Responsibility dates to ancient Rome whose citizens wanted to contribute to Roman society. Although Civic Responsibility has existed for centuries in society, it was officially sanctioned as a blueprint for democracy in 1787 by the ratification of the United States Constitution. The Constitution declared, “We the people of the United States, to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States.” In the 18th and 19th centuries and through the 1930s, civic responsibility in America was tied to a commonwealth perspective. From voluntary fire departments to the public arts to the Civilian Conservation Corpsb of the 1930s and 1940s, citizens took part in projects that shaped communities and the nation. Due to civic responsibility, citizenship was understood in terms of the labors of ordinary people who created goods and undertook projects to help the public, as opposed to the high-minded, virtuous and leisure activities of men. This civic find helped create an important balance between pursuit of individual wealth and the creation of public things (Boyte and Kari 1999). In the 1960s, community responsibility and civic responsibility became more popular. The Cold War and nuclear threats were common fears that coalesced citizens of the United States (Swanson, 1999). Combined with opposition to the war in Vietnam, grassroots organizations to fight environmental pollution and college campus protest demonstrations, citizens learned the value of expressing civic responsibility through civil disobedience. People relied on each other to correct injustice and achieve greatness in the nation. During the 1960s, 62.8 percent of Americans voted in presidential elections. People were involved in political organizations and community action groups because modern technology allowed more free time to society (Putman 2000). Participation proved successful in the Civil Rights Movement lead by Martin Luther King and later failed in the 1980s with the Equal Rights Amendment initiative. In the 1980s and 1990s, many organizations lost membership. For example, new memberships for the organization of Business and Professional Women declined 89 percent by the end of 1997. Memberships for the Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) declined 60 percent, memberships for the League of Women Voters declined 61 percent and memberships for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) saw a 46 percent decrease in membership (Swanson 1999). In 2001, 44 percent of American adults volunteered in organizations compared to 55 percent in 1999. Financial donations declined in 2001 with 89 percent of American households giving an average of $1,620 compared to 70 percent with an average of $1,075 in 1999 (Independent Sector 1999, Independent Sector 2001).
The importance of civic responsibility is paramount to the success of democracy and philanthropy. By engaging in civic responsibility, citizens ensure and uphold certain democratic values written in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those values or duties include justice, freedom, equality, diversity, authority, privacy, due process, property, participation, truth, patriotism, human rights, rule of law, tolerance, mutual assistance, self-restraint and self-respect. Schools teach civic responsibility to students with the goal to produce responsible citizens and active participants in community and government.
Political socialization is a political learning whereby people develop the attitude, values, beliefs, opinions, behaviors that are conductive to becoming good citizens in their country. Socialization is a one-way process through which people gain an understanding of political world through their interaction with the media. Political socialization, the process by which citizenship orientations are transmitted, is conditioned by shifts in the political, social, and economic contexts at the community, nation-state, and international levels. The complexities that characterize the political socialization process and its outcomes become especially clear during periods of transition and upheaval. Having a strong grasp of how the socialization process works can provide us with tremendous insights into the changes that are going on in a society and how they are affecting democratic regimes