TitleCivic involvement across the life course: Moving beyond age-based assumptions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHirshorn, BA, Settersten, RA
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
Pagination199 - 211
Date Published9/2013

This paper critically examines factors which, over time and context, are linked to civic involvement for individuals, age groups, and cohorts. We begin by critiquing current age- and cohort-related civic involvement canons and norms by extracting and evaluating rationales for why such activity in two particular periods of life—early adulthood and old age—is assumed to be good for individuals and for society. Then, employing elements of a life course perspective, we consider an alternative approach to civic involvement—one that emphasizes dynamic trajectories and the significant degree of variability within individuals, age groups and cohorts resulting in a very different set of assumptions about individual choice and activity. We close by discussing the utility of this alternative approach for research, policy, and practice regarding civic involvement.