Bridging Divides Through Civic Language: Expanding and Deepening our Research with PACE

  • Innovative research design to allow for longitudinal and in-depth findings

  • Engaging and interactive results dashboard for continued data exploration

Partnership with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

01 | Overview

Back in 2022, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) and Citizen Data partnered on a research collaboration to better understand American attitudes towards civic language. The research – which adopted a mixed methods approach, including a quantitative survey, qualitative focus groups, and an interactive dashboard – had two significant goals:

    • Explore how Americans perceive terms used within the democracy and philanthropic spaces, and
    • Spark conversation about the use of civic language.

Those conversations were so profound that a whole host of new questions were raised, leading PACE and Citizen Data to embark on a second round of research–Civic Language Perceptions Project 2024–to expand and deepen our findings from the foundational phase.

02 | Approach

The Citizen and PACE teams worked closely together to address the questions inspired by the 2022 data. Together, we crafted a sophisticated survey instrument fielded to 5,033 registered voters, in addition to a range of highly custom demographic groups of interest.

Expanding on our previous dataset, the research project incorporated eleven repeat terms to track the evolution of attitudes over time, and ten new terms to ensure timeliness and relevance. To allow for comparison across types of term, the survey was categorized into three thematic groupings for respondents: Democracy, Civic Engagement, and Racial Equity.

In order to delve further into the “why” behind perceptions, the research probed which factors influence the way terms are perceived, in addition to which behaviors and actions are inspired by different terms. The research instrument incorporated space for respondent-led responses on the definition of terms.

03 | Results

Our results unearthed important distinctions across civic language terms around, for instance, levels of familiarity and favorability; evolution over time; and potential to impact behavior. Important demographic disparities provide additional data points which keep the important conversation around civic language alive.

The Results

Following the previous round of research, roughly 300 people attended the PACE “launch webinar,” approximately 500 requested login credentials for the dashboard, and PACE’s website traffic rose by more than 100%.

Enthusiasm for the project continues to grow with the latest round of insights; the research was featured in Forbes and The Fulcrum, and almost 200 attendees registered for the opening webinar.

The new interactive dashboard - which was built to house both the original 2022 and the new 2024 datasets - to date has over 1,000 visits is being used by nearly 200 change-makers in the democracy field.

  • 1000+ visits to interactive data dashboard
  • 100% increase in website traffic
  • 5+ Earned Media Hits, including Forbes feature

With the recency of this research – and an ongoing webinar series focused on civic education, patriotism, racial equity, and democracy, in addition to how to communicate with Gen Z and rural communities – we anticipate that this is only just the beginning.

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