Engagement in civic organisations in old age: Motivations for participation and retention
Teresa Alves Martins, João Arriscado Nunes, Isabel Dias, Isabel Menezes
Journal of Aging Studies, Volume 59, December 2021

Although the importance of older citizens' civic engagement has been highlighted in research and policy, the topic remains underexplored. In this study, we discuss older Portuguese citizens' motivations for civic engagement. The research is based on interviews with eighteen participants aged over 60, who are retired but active in civic organisations, in which they hold or have held leadership positions. We employed thematic analysis to examine the qualitative data. The findings suggest a range of motivations for participation, with personal and ideological/political motives emerging as relevant for involvement, retention and leaving, and interpersonal relationships motivating involvement and retention. However, the specific motivations differ as a function of not only the stages of involvement/retention/leaving, but also the type of organisation and the participants' life experiences. There are notable differences between the motivations for involvement in cultural and recreational organisations, neighbourhood organisations and volunteer programmes, where the emphasis is on fostering interpersonal relationships, and the more ideological/political motivations that appear as determinant within political and activist organisations. As such, this study brings a more complex understanding of the range of motivations for civic engagement in later life, with significant implications for fostering older citizens' mobilisation and sustained engagement.

Keywords: Civic engagement, Political participation, Ageing, Motivations, Retention, Organisational diversity


Original Contents by Journal of Aging Studies, Volume 59, December 2021