The Internet and Engaged Citizenship. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. David Karpf. October 2019.
The Internet is everywhere. Years ago, it was limited to desktop computers, synonymous with the static and whir of a connecting modem. Today it is in our pockets, on our wrists, in our household appliances, and on the multitude of screens that we interact with daily. The old dividing line between online and offline has dissolved, taking with it simplistic comparisons between online and offline civic and political behavior. Questions regarding the state of engaged citizenship in the United States in 2019 inevitably become tied up with digital media, because digital media are now baked into how we learn about public affairs, voice our opinions, argue with our neighbors, and build political power. Civic participation, political polarization, public misinformation, and public accountability all have a digital element to them.
Is the Internet hurting or helping civic engagement and political participation? Who does it empower, and who does it disenfranchise? Is it leaving the public better or worse informed? Is it damaging media and political institutions, or promoting innovation and renewal? Despite decades of scholarship on the Internet and civic engagement, we have arrived at surprisingly few stable findings. Two limiting factors—the pace of Internet time and the proprietary data gap—have repeatedly gotten in the way.
This paper discusses these two limitations, and then details five thematic areas that touch on major trends in the state of knowledge within the field. The purpose of the paper is to make clear how the medium has changed over the decades, to highlight how today’s Internet in civic life differs from the civic Internet of decades’ past, and to capture the key puzzles that will drive research in the near future. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 40 pages].
Tax Issues Relating to Charitable Contributions and Organizations. Congressional Research Service. Jane G. Gravelle, Donald J. Marples, Molly F. Sherlock. September 19, 2019
The federal government supports the charitable sector by providing charitable organizations and donors with favorable tax treatment. Individuals itemizing deductions may claim a tax deduction for charitable contributions. Estates can make charitable bequests. Corporations can deduct charitable contributions before computing income taxes. Further, earnings on funds held by charitable organizations and used for a related charitable purpose are exempt from tax. In FY2019, projected tax subsidies for charities, not including the value of the tax exemption on earnings of charities or the estate tax deduction, totaled $51.8 billion. If investment income of nonprofits were taxed at the 35% corporate tax rate in 2015, revenue collected is estimated at $26.7 billion (this amount excludes religious organizations). The cost of deducting bequests on estates is estimated at $4 billion to $5 billion.
[PDF format, 52 pages].
Will America Embrace National Service? Brookings Institution. John Bridgeland and John J. DiIulio. October 10, 2019
America’s civic health is in significant decline. The
percentage of Americans who say others can be trusted fell from 46 percent in
1972 to just 31 percent in 2016, with 36 percent of Whites and 17 percent of
Blacks expressing such trust; and, in recent years, trust in the media,
government, and the courts has fallen to historic lows.1 It is no surprise that
communities are fraying in places like Charlottesville, Ferguson and Baltimore,
and that America is not fulfilling its potential, as political institutions
suffer from partisan gridlock, and the institutions that serve as checks on
power and as guarantors of individual rights are increasingly under
One powerful idea to rebuild our civic bridges is universal
national service—an expectation and opportunity that young people as they come
of age perform a year or more of military or civilian national service. Such
service would bring young people from different backgrounds, income levels,
races, ethnicities, and areas of the country together in shared experiences to
solve public challenges as they form their attitudes and habits early in life.
Many would discover that they are leaders—the kind of leaders who could work
across differences to get things done. There would be other positive effects.
This paper examines the case for national service,
highlights the various ways in which that service could unfold, and concludes
that large-scale national service is needed in America now. [Note: contains copyrighted
[PDF format, 36 pages].
European Public Opinion Three Decades After the Fall of Communism. Pew Research Center. Richard Wike et al. October 15, 2019.
Most embrace democracy and the EU,
but many worry about the political and economic future
Thirty years ago, a wave of optimism
swept across Europe as walls and regimes fell, and long-oppressed publics
embraced open societies, open markets and a more united Europe. Three decades
later, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that few people in the former
Eastern Bloc regret the monumental changes of 1989-1991. Yet, neither are they
entirely content with their current political or economic circumstances.
Indeed, like their Western European counterparts, substantial shares of Central
and Eastern European citizens worry about the future on issues like inequality
and the functioning of their political systems. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 189 pages].
Learning to Build Police-Community Trust: Implementation Assessment Findings from the Evaluation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Urban Institute. Jesse Jannetta et al. August 8, 2019
This research report documents the training, policy
development, and reconciliation activities of the six cities that took part in
the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, an effort to
promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve
relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. We found
that the training component of the Initiative, which exposed officers to
concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias, was implemented as intended
and was well received by officers. In addition, the reconciliation framework
used to improve relationships between police and communities was powerful and
impactful, leading police departments to make changes to their policies to
build trust and institutionalize improvements to practices. We also observed
that local contexts affected the implementation process, with factors such as
police leadership stability and the dynamics underlying relations between
police, political leadership, and the community facilitating or impeding
progress. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 112 pages].
Inequality as a Multidimensional Process. Daedalus: Journal. Summer 2019.
Rising inequality is one of our most pressing social
concerns. And it is not simply that some are advantaged while others are not,
but that structures of inequality are self-reinforcing and cumulative; they
become durable. The societal arrangements that in the past have produced more
equal economic outcomes and social opportunities – such as expanded mass
education, access to social citizenship and its benefits, and wealth
redistribution – have often been attenuated and supplanted by processes that
are instead inequality-inducing. This issue of Dædalus draws on a wide
range of expertise to better understand and examine how economic conditions are
linked, across time and levels of analysis, to other social, psychological,
political, and cultural processes that can either counteract or reinforce
durable inequalities. [Note: contains copyrighted
[HTML format, various paging].
The Public Face of Science Across the World: Optimism and Innovation in an Era of Reservations and Inequality. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Matthew C. Nisbet and Erik C. Nisbet. July 2019.
In recent years, scientists and civil society leaders have
grown increasingly worried about a pervasive “antiscientific” culture in the
United States. Despite such fears, several long-standing public opinion trends
offer reassurance to those alarmed about the cultural status of science and
technology today. Since the 1970s, polls have indicated that the great majority
of Americans voice confidence in the leadership of the scientific community,
believing optimistically that the societal benefits of their work outweigh any
harms or potential moral trade-offs. In contrast, during the same period,
public confidence in almost every other major institution has plummeted.
Americans have expressed similarly strong support for government funding of
scientific research, recognizing the value of scientific activity to society. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 56 pages].