Unit 5.1

Collective identity: Feelings and belonging to the social sphere: Citizen participation and pluralism


Forms of social participation

  • Belonging to an NGO:
    • A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit voluntary group, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good.
    • NGOs can help people directly, spread awareness about a certain problem or fight for certain laws.
  • Consumer associations are advocacy groups to protect people from corporate abuse like unsafe products, predatory lending or false advertising.
  • You can also donate money for various foundations and certain projects. You can find those for example at globalgiving.org.

Mechanisms of political participation

  • Exercising the right to vote:
    • To vote in a general election, you must:
      • be registered to vote, for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland you can do it at gov.uk/register-to-vote. You only register once.
      • be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’).
      • be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen;
      • be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years);
      • not be legally excluded from voting.
    • In Scotland to vote in Scottish Parliament and the local election, you have to be 16;
  • Membership to a political party:
    • Currently, the biggest political parties are the Labour Party with 519000 members, Conservative Party with 191000 members and SNP with 125534 members.
    • You will have to pay a subscription in most cases. Every party has different subscriptions cost.
    • Most common restrictions in applying for membership are:
      • Age restrictions;
      • citizenship restrictions;
      • a commitment to the party’s principles;
      • limiting holding membership of other political parties;
      • limiting standing against officially endorsed candidates;
      • membership of specifically prohibited political parties;
      • personal conduct expectations and party rule compliance.
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