POLT07003 2017 Political and civic engagement and active citizenship

General Details

Full Title
Political and civic engagement and active citizenship
Transcript Title
PCE and AC
N/A %
Subject Area
POLT - Politics
SOCS - Social Sciences
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Martha Doyle
Programme Membership
SG_HJOIN_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics SG_HJOIN_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics SG_HJOIN_H08 202100 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics

The nature of citizens’ political and civic engagement is continually evolving and closely connected to the themes of state, society, democracy and dominant cultural forces. In this module, the different forms of political and civic engagement will be explored, to include an analysis and discussion of citizen organisations represented through formal NGOs and less organised forms of active citizenship which take the form of social movements, popular protest and direct action. The nebulous relationship and boundaries between state and social movements and citizens’ organisations shall be explored. Taking a three-pronged approach the module will explore the topic of active citizenship; firstly, at the institutional or structural level, by exploring the political national and international forces which facilitate or hinder active citizenship; secondly, the meso level by considering the importance of organisational/grassroots mobilisation, resources and survival; and thirdly, the individual level examining the cultural, cognitive and affective factors which influence individuals’ participation.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Discuss key theoretical perspectives on power as they relate to citizen engagement


Understand the inter-relationship between national and international policy and political and civic engagement


Apply sociological and/or political theories on interest organisations and social movement to explain the evolution of social movements and citizen organisations in a national or international context


Appraise the distinction between social movements and citizens representation through the NGO sector


Be able to use sociological theories to explain factors which may influence individuals' political and civic engagement

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Material will be covered through lectures, class-based discussion, case work, exploring quantitative and qualitative research databases and video/podcasts. 

Module Assessment Strategies


  • 30% Critical review of a journal or book chapter taken from the below reading list (Depending on article chosen learning outcome 1-5)
  • 20% Ten minute PowerPoint presentation summarising findings of the above critical review (Learning outcome 1-5)
  • 50% Final term essay/project (Learning outcome 1-5)



Repeat Assessments

Repeat requirements will depend on failed component(s). 

Indicative Syllabus

Macro Level

Active citizenship and national and international institutions

This section of the module will explore the interrelationship between institutional power, policy and practice and active citizenship. It will explore theoretical understandings of power and the change in recent decades towards greater citizen inclusion and participation within the policy process. Specific questions to be explored, debated and discussed will include:

  • How is active citizenship defined in the international context? Do institutions, such as the UN, EU and OECD promote, legitimise or facilitate political and civic engagement?
  • How is active citizenship, defined in the Irish context?
  • Does civic engagement pose a challenge or opportunity for representative democracy, is there a need to reshape traditional power structures?

Meso level

This section of the module will examine the issue of political and civic engagement from the organisational perspective focusing on issues such as, organisational emergence/growth, competition, resources and survival. Key topics explored in this section include:

  • How do theoretical perspectives on interest groups and social movements such as, resource mobilisation theory, rational choice and political opportunity structures help explain the evolving and dynamic nature of citizen engagement?

Micro Level

The final section of the module explores the topic of political and civic engagement at the level of individual. It will explore such questions as:

  • Why do people choose to become involved in citizen organisations, direct protest and social movements?
  • Do differences in social, health, disability, age, gender and economic position and status alter individuals’ ability to engage in political and civic engagement?
  • What role do cultural systems in the contemporary information age play on collective identity building and civic and political engagement?
  • Can people share a collective identity or shared identity politics?

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Assessment Continuous Assessment Assessment 100 % Week 12 1,2,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Not Specified Class 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Reading List

Castells, M. (2012) Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, Polity Press London.

Crossley, N. (2002) Making Sense of Social Movements. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Daly, M. (2003). Governance and social policy. Journal of Social Policy, 32(1), 113-128.

Doyle, M. (2015) The Politics of Old Age: Older People:-:-#8217::::s Interest Organisation and Collective Action in Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Forde, C. (2005). Participatory democracy or pseudo-participation? Local government reform in Ireland. :-:-#160::::Local Government Studies, 31 (2), 137-148.

Hughes, I., Clancy, P., Harris, C., :-:-amp:::: Beetham, D. (2007). Power to the people? Assessing democracy in Ireland. Dublin: TASC.

Kirby, P. (2006). Bringing social inclusion to centre stage: towards a project of active citizenship. In D. Jacobson, P. Kirby :-:-amp:::: D. :-:-#211:::: Broin (Eds.), Taming the tiger: Social exclusion in a globalised Ireland (pp. 180-199).

Marinetto, M. (2003). Who wants to be an active citizen? The politics and practices of community involvement Sociology, 37, 103-120.

McCarthy, J., D., :-:-amp:::: Zald, M. N. (1977). Resource mobilization and social movements: A partial theory. The American Journal of Sociology, 82 (6), 1212-1241.

Melucci, A (1999) Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Murphy, G. (2003). Pluralism and the politics of morality. In M. Adshead :-:-amp:::: M. Millar (Eds.), Public Administration and Public Policy in Ireland (pp. 20-36). London: Routledge.

Murphy, G. (2005). Interest groups in the policy-making process. In J. Coakley :-:-amp:::: M. Gallagher (Eds.), Politics in the Republic of Ireland (pp. 352-383). New York, NY: Routledge.


OECD. (2009). Focus on citizens: Public engagement for better policy and services. Paris: OECD.

Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon :-:-amp:::: Schuster.

Tarrow, S. (1994). Power in Movement: Collective Action, Social Movements and Politics: Cambridge University Press