Civic engagement has long stood as a central concept in social science scholarship, especially in the American social and political contexts. Indeed, many scholars have argued that civic engagement – i.e. involvement of individuals or groups in actions that promote the improvement of and change in their communities – has played a key role in democratic development and success. The beneficial effects of civic engagement at the individual, community and societal levels have also been widely acknowledged.
However, as Candice C. Robinson (PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh) stresses in this important recent article, much of existing civic engagement scholarship draws primarily on the experiences of White individuals. Laying out the ways in which previous scholarship fails to account for how structural inequalities within societies, organizations and associations impact forms of, and possibilities for, civic engagement among Black Americans, Robinson calls for a (re-)theorization of civic engagement that encompasses Black Americans’ experiences. Such (re-)theorization of Black civic engagement, in turn, holds great potential in advancing scholarship about and understandings of racialized dynamics in social movement mobilization.