March 2008:
Special Symposium in Political Studies

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The U.S. “Citizenship, Involvement, Democracy” (CID) survey is a major study of American civic engagement in a comparative perspective. The project was directed by Marc Morjé Howard, with the assistance of associate directors James L. Gibson and Dietlind Stolle.  It was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, which provided a generous grant to the Center for Democracy and Civil Society (CDACS) at Georgetown University. The fieldwork was carried out by International Communications Research between mid-May and mid-July of 2005, consisting of in-person interviews with a representative sample of 1001 Americans who responded to an 80-minute questionnaire.

The U.S. CID Survey includes questions on such concepts as:
• social capital
• activities in formal clubs and organizations
• informal social activities
• personal networks (strong and weak ties)
• trust (in other people, the community, institutions, and politicians)
• local democracy and participation
• democratic values
• political citizenship
• social citizenship
• views on immigration and diversity
• political identification, ideology, mobilization, and action
• tolerance

The project also represents a collaboration between CDACS and the European Social Survey (ESS), which has been conducted biannually since 2002. The U.S. CID survey integrates several elements of a “module” from the ESS that stems from the Citizenship, Involvement and Democracy (CID) project in Europe, directed by Jan van Deth and recently published as an edited volume. The result of our project is that the U.S. can now be included in comparative perspective to the 22 European countries from the 2002 version of the ESS.

In addition to the replicated questions from the ESS, the American version of the survey includes new and innovative questions—particularly related to the themes of informal social networks, the composition and diversity of ties and associations, democratic values, and tolerance—all of which are connected to lively debates about civic engagement, social capital, and democracy. The survey provides an unusually rich perspective on citizen participation in both the public and private realms.