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Global Perspectives on Civic Health: Applying Lessons from Post- Communist Societies to Enable Greater Civic Outcomes in the United States

Author: THOMAS A. BRYER and PAMELA MEDINA
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 39 No. 4

Civic engagement and volunteerism in post-communist societies is poor; there are limited traditions of civic activity, and those traditions that have existed have meanings associated with a historical period when free engagement was risky and volunteerism was coerced. Today, in nations like Lithuania, there are efforts underway to reclaim the labels "volunteerism" and "participation" and to craft more civically healthy communities. This paper will address two questions: (1) How has Lithuania's civic health evolved since independence from the Soviet Union? (2) What lessons are in the emergence of a civic and volunteer culture provide for scholars, government and nonprofit officials, and civic leaders interested in moving communities within the United States out of their civic ruts? Underlying the second question is an assumption, which will be argued within the paper, that officials in the United States have more to learn from emergent civic cultures than those emergent cultures do from us, though there are certainly lessons from the United States that may be applicable.

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