Civic participation is at the very heart of democracy and is its lifeblood. Local community has been regarded as one of the cornerstones of democracy where residents can exercise their rights and responsibilities and participate actively in the public realm, particularly through maintaining dialogue between residents and locally elected representatives. It promotes effective local democracy, with strong and accountable political leadership.
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government of the UK government, civil renewal is:
about people and government, working together to make life better. It involves more people taking responsibility for tackling local problems, rather than expecting others to. The idea is that government can’t solve everything by itself, and nor can the community: It’s better when we work together.
There are three key ingredients to civil renewal:
- Active citizens: people with motivation, skills and confidence to speak up for their communities and organizations;
- Strengthened communities: community groups with the capacity and resources to bring people together, and
- Partnership with public bodies: pubic bodies willing and able to work as partners with local people.
Community engagement includes the mobilization of interests and support in social movements, policy consultation, volunteering, corporate social responsibility, the cultivation of local representative leadership, and the mitigation of local conflicts. Communities are places where the third sector, including non-governmental organizations, faith groups, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and community organizations, has been most active. These community organizations are important channels for public engagement and involvement in community affairs.
Abstracted from Leung, C.B. (2010), Social Capital and Community: A Review of International and Hong Kong Development. In Ng, S.H., Leung Y.L, and Prakash Brahm (Eds.), Social Capital in Hong Kong: Connectivities and Social Enterprise. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.