Alabama’s civic challenge: Turn neighborliness into public action

By Cristin Foster on

This week, the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, University of Alabama’s New College, Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts, and the National Conference on Citizenship are releasing the 2015 Alabama Civic Health Index. Three key indicators are explored in the Alabama Civic Health Index: political action, social connectedness, and public work. Each indicator includes both formal and informal measures of engagement that spotlight Alabama’s civic strengths and highlight areas for improvement. Examined together, the three indicators illustrate how Alabamians engage in their communities, connect with each other, and work together to solve community problems. The findings in this report show that civic life in Alabama is thriving in several key areas. Alabamians demonstrate strong social connectedness with family and friends. They exchange favors with neighbors frequently and give charitably at high rates. This affirms the state’s reputation as being neighborly and hospitable. Alabamians also exceed national averages for discussing politics with family and friends frequently and for registering to vote. Alabama’s strong social connectedness and neighborliness, however, do not translate to high levels of public work. In fact, Alabama ranks at or near the bottom in rates of attending public meetings and working with neighbors to fix or improve something in the community. Important findings in this report include: -Nearly every indicator of civic health is positively correlated with educational attainment. Alabamians who hold a Bachelor’s degree have higher rates of engagement in almost every measure of political action. -Alabamians age 30 and over are nearly twice as likely as 18 – 29 year olds to vote in national (67.2 percent versus 40.3 percent) and local (67.7 percent versus 38.5 percent) elections. -Urban Alabamians are more likely to vote and contact public officials, while rural Alabamians discuss politics with family and friends and exchange favors with neighbors more often. -Trust forms an important component of any social bond, and 61.3 percent of Alabamians report trusting all or most of their neighbors. Nationally, only 55.8 percent of Americans report trusting their neighbors. ~1@BODYURL[id=114jbcurl1302]@

Print Friendly, PDF & Email