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Pathways Fellow Maria Pavlova has been awarded a grant by the German Research Foundation on the topic "Psychosocial benefits of civic and political participation across the life span and in a European comparison: Who gains what from which activities, and why?" The project will be funded for 3 years with direct project costs up to 297,010 Euro. Maria is prinicipal investigator and the grant will also fund a doctoral student position for two years:

"Civic and political participation refer to unpaid voluntary activities that are undertaken collectively, typically in a voluntary organization, and directed at the common benefit. Civic participation may be distinguished from political participation. The former involves direct helping activities (e.g., volunteering as a coach for a children’s sports team or as a cook in a soup kitchen), whereas the latter involves attempts to achieve policy change (e.g., petitioning or volunteering for a political party). Although civically or politically engaged individuals do not receive any substantial remuneration, they also derive certain benefits from civic and political participation. Such benefits are known and include, among others, higher subjective well-being, avoidance of risky behaviours, and career-related benefits. However, earlier research has focused on showing that there are some benefits to citizen participation rather than systematically examining their mechanisms.

The present project aims to investigate which types of citizen participation are beneficial to participating individuals in which ways, why, at which age, and in which societies. Dr Pavlova draws a distinction between civic and political participation and consider different levels of involvement in a voluntary organization (i.e., membership, active participation, and volunteering). She proffers a conceptual model whereby these types of citizen participation yield psychosocial benefits through certain mediating pathways. The mediating pathways considered in the present project include meaning-making, sense of mastery and control, positive social interactions, useful contacts, and skill acquisition. Furthermore, she argues that the associations between citizen participation and psychosocial outcomes may be moderated by age at the individual level and by country at the aggregate level.

To test my conceptual model, Dr Pavlova will conduct a secondary analysis of three large datasets: the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), and the European Social Survey (ESS), Round 2012 (29 participating countries). Each of these datasets includes information on civic and political participation and other relevant variables, which in each case allow for testing some of the pathways in my conceptual model. Two panel surveys make robust longitudinal analyses possible, whereas the ESS enables her to conduct a rigorous cross-national comparison. Taken together, analyses of these data will provide a systematic, differentiated, and explanatory account of the psychosocial benefits of citizen participation. Findings will have not only scientific but also practical value to policy makers and organizations in the third sector and health care, nationally and internationally."

 

 

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