PROMOTING CIVIC CULTURE BY SUPPORTING CITIZENSHIP: WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT MAKE?

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Abstract

Scholars and policy-makers alike argue that government efforts to empower citizens and build cohesive communities are integral to the development of a flourishing civic culture, especially within disadvantaged areas. In this paper, we explore this assumption by analysing the impact of different approaches to supporting citizenship in English urban local authorities on levels of political efficacy and social cohesion. Support for citizenship is modelled using primary data drawn from a large-scale national survey as well as in-depth case studies, supplemented with relevant secondary data. The findings suggest that local authorities that seek to promote greater understanding of citizenship and democracy can enhance citizens' perceived influence over local decisions, and that this effect is particularly marked in deprived areas. Citizens experiencing high levels of social harmony tend to reside in areas where councils actively seek to reduce disaffection.

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