Most Americans take part in some form of civic or political activity, though more are finding outlets for their civic concerns online, according to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

According to the August 2012 survey, 72% percent of American adults engaged in at least one civic or political activity in the previous 12 months, by the Project’s definition.

The activities fell into four broad categories. Fully 48% engaged in some form of direct activity, such as attending a meeting or rally, being an active member of an interest group, or working with fellow citizens to address some community problem. 39% said they had contacted a government official, signed a petition or spoke out in a meeting or other public forum; 34% said they done similar things online, such as emailing an officeholder or commenting on a blog post.

Finally, 39% of people said they’d engaged in some sort of civic or political activity via a social-networking site such as Facebook or Twitter, such as posting or reposting political news and commentary, “liking” an issue or encouraging people to vote. That works out to two-thirds of social-network users.

Most of the politically active social-network users are active elsewhere as well: Fully 83% said they were involved in political or social issues in one way or another outside the bounds of social networking sites themselves. Read more


Drew DeSilver  is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.