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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Civic Opportunity

de Vries, M., Kim, J.Y. & Han, H. The unequal landscape of civic opportunity in America. Nat Hum Behav (2023).

The hollowing of civil society has threatened effective implementation of scientific solutions to pressing public challenges—which often depend on cultivating pro-social orientations commonly studied under the broad umbrella of social capital. Although robust research has studied the constituent components of social capital from the demand side (that is, the orientations people need for collective life in pluralistic societies, such as trust, cohesion and connectedness), the same precision has not been brought to the supply side. Here we define the concept of civic opportunity—opportunities people have to encounter civic experiences necessary for developing such orientations—and harness data science to map it across America. We demonstrate that civic opportunity is more highly correlated with pro-social outcomes such as mutual aid than other measures, but is unequally distributed, and its sources are underrepresented in the public dialogue. Our findings suggest greater attention to this fundamentally uneven landscape of civic opportunity.