The general aim of the article is to assess the ways residents of Czechia engage in particular types of action in public interest (including attending a public hearing on a local issue, volunteering, donating or signing a petition) and in such actiongenerally. A literature review concludes that the terms engagement and participation tend to be seen as synonymous. In the theory section, predictors of engagement are discussed, amongst which most authors treat education as central. This gives rise to my first hypothesis (H1): Individuals’ civic engagement will be positively influenced by their educational attainment. In contrast, since have been no detailed studies of the relationship between life satisfaction and engagement in Czechia thus far, I formulate H2: There is a relationship between individuals’ life satisfaction and their civic engagement, with more engaged citizens being more satisfied.
Secondary analysis of an archived dataset was conducted. The survey took place in February 2014 using face-to-face interviews with Czech citizens aged 18–64 years, who were selected using quota sampling. In addition to region of residence, quotas for age, gender and municipality size were applied. 1903 respondents in compliance with the quotas were invited and 1327 valid interviews were conducted, with a response rate of 70%.
Over the past five years, 61% of the respondents engaged in at least one of the actions studied. The highest number of respondents, 45%, donated money; 27% signed a petition; and 25% attended a public hearing. A chi square test revealed that general engagement varied with educational attainment (χ2 = 48.8; df = 5), age, type of economic activity, socioeconomic status, and municipality size.
Respondent’s educational attainment is the main differentiating factor of both self-declared general engagement and participation in the different actions studied (H1 confirmed). In particular, college graduates are significantly more engaged than individuals with primary education or secondary education without GCSE. Age is another apparent differentiating factor, whereas respondents in their thirties are significantly more engaged than young people under 24.
Mean values of the self-reporting scales indicate that engaged respondents are more satisfied (average satisfaction of 7.3 on a 10-point scale), namely those who reported having taken at least one action in public interest over the past five years. Average satisfaction among those not engaged was 7.1. Although the difference is statistically significant (using a two-sample t-test), basically confirming H2, it cannot be deemed substantive. When respondents were categorized as “dissatisfied” (1–4 points), “neutral” (5–6) and “satisfied” (7–10 points), 50% of the former were engaged, compared to 63% of the latter. Using three-way tables, the effects of the third variables on the relationship were tested, but none of the control variables significantly intervened in the relationship.
The differences in satisfaction were larger when looking at the particular actions separately. “Satisfied” respondents were the most likely to engage in all actions except demonstrating or ones categorized as other. The fact that less satisfied individuals were more likely to take action expressing their disagreement (to attend a demonstration) can be viewed as attesting the effect of life satisfaction on civic engagement. Thus, satisfaction positively influenced engagement in “positively” oriented action.