Monitorial citizens or civic omnivores? Repertoires of civic participation among university students

Lesley Hustinx, Lucas C.P.M. Meijs, Femida Handy, Ram A. Cnaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In present-day societies, the extent to which young people still participate in civic life is an important matter of concern. The claim of a generational "decline" in civic engagement has been contested, and interchanged with the notion of a "replacement" of traditional engagement by new types of participation, and the emergence of the "monitorial citizen" who participates in more individualized ways. Concurrently, this study explored the assumption of a "pluralization" of involvement, advancing a new concept: the "civic omnivore," characterized by an expanded civic repertoire. Drawing data from a sample of 1,493 Belgian and Dutch university students, we identify five repertoires of participation such as, disengaged students, classical volunteers, humanitarian citizens, monitorial citizens, and civic omnivores. Our findings support the pluralization thesis, by showing that young citizens are not exclusively engaged in new monitorial ways, yet also expand their civic repertoire by combining traditional and new forms in more complex ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-117
Number of pages23
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article: Lesley Hustinx’s work was supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Science Foundation-Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen).


  • citizenship
  • civic participation
  • expanding repertoires of participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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