Introduction to Belonging & Civic Muscle

Belonging & Civic Muscle is a Vital Condition for Well-Being

Belonging and Civic Muscle is one of seven “Vital Conditions” that comprise the Vital Conditions for Health and Well-being framework. This framework describes what contributes to well-being and the Conditions that give rise to it, as well as identifying opportunities to shift those systems and drive transformative community change and improvement. It brings together major determinants of health, exposing how parts of a multi-faceted whole work as a system to produce equitable well-being.

What is Belonging & Civic Muscle?

Made up of connections to family, culture, social groups, and community, this vital condition is the foundation for all other vital conditions that give rise to a thriving, healthy life. Along with having a sense of pride in community and strong social networks, civic participation from diverse community members in problem-solving activities, and taking collective responsibility for each other is necessary to build strong communities and promote positive change. People with a stronger sense of belonging and social connectedness tend to live healthier, happier lives. At the community and neighborhood level, social cohesion strengthens social ties and engenders collective attachment.

Higher levels of social cohesion are associated with higher levels of trust, cooperation and social capital, providing the necessary foundation for working together across groups and sectors, and building the “civic infrastructure” for community members to co-create a shared future. These patterns can create a virtuous cycle – working together supports stronger communication and develops a sense of connectedness and mutual obligation. As people in a community feel valued and cared for, they become more confident and willing to participate in the community, contributing to its vibrancy and affecting change.

Who Belongs?

The Who Belongs? podcast is Othering and Belonging Institute’s official podcast. 

Why is Belonging & Civic Muscle Considered a Vital Condition for Health?

More than ever, we are starting to understand the real value of personal relationships and social support as a necessary component to well-being. Connection to community, having a role in community decision-making, and contributing to a shared future are associated with higher levels of trust, cooperation, and social capital. This feeling of belonging contributes to positive mental and physical health, which carries forward to overall community resilience. Learn more