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SOCIAL STUDIES DIARY

Civism: A Definitive Statement

Civism consists of those public stated or declared values and virtues, (the accepted norm of human behavior) that have become recognizable cultural forms expressed within a particular society by its citizens. The forms of society include the stated values and virtues related to government, religion, law, and social relationships (marriage, family life, manners, and civic conduct). These ideal norms of civism vary according to specific societies, as well as specific historical or cultural settings and times. In addition, civism tends to be elastic, in that the norms of civism associated with a particular society will change as social values associated with a particular society change. These changes can be detected by the rhetoric of political leaders and shifts in public attitudes or the citizens' generally shared outlook.

 

For the individual, civism is acquired as an important aspect of childrearing in which an internal reality known as the "life of the mind" is created. The "life of the mind" consists of values and virtues that often are triggered by external stimulus. Once this internal world is formed, the individual comes to interpret social, political and economic experiences, events, and actions from his minds-eye perspective. This "life of the mind" influences the individual's actions and reactions to various events, crises, problems, and situations. In other words, the influences of the individual's civism are, to some extent, existential and also generational, and while there are degrees of common or shared understandings there also are differences.

 

Thomas L. Dynneson

 

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