One of those terms that people throw around all the time in international development that I'm not sure really means anything in the US. I guess Americans would say "civic duty" instead. I've been trying to do my part but it's been a challenge finding volunteer opportunities that are meaningful and fun but still accommodating of time constraints, particularly my travel schedule. I'd love to see Big Sisters or a tutoring program, but that would require a level of consistency that I'm not sure of right now. Plus I'd like to learn something new, have fun, and meet people I normally wouldn't meet - not necessarily for pure networking purposes.
So here's what I'm involved in:
* Fil-Am community liaison for the Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for the Philippines - so far I've spent most of my time trying to draft an article for the community page of Filipinas Magazine and hopefully staffing a table at the Filipina Summit.
* development volunteer with WVSA ARTs Connection - first event is tomorrow night's gallery opening.
This is in addition to church activities (both official and non), plus I'd like to learn how to kayak, knit, work in a community garden....
I think civil society is a bit looser than civic duty. If you are involved in civil society orgs, it is probably due to your sense of civil duty. The term probably ought to be used in the US. I didn't know what it meant when I first encountered the term. We certainly have it in the US but we don't have a catchall term for it.