Civil courage

Civil courage is a type of courage, related closely to heroism, in which a person acts bravely to intervene or take a stand in a social situation.[1]


Italian journalist and writer Franca Magnani [de] (1925–1996) wrote, "Je mehr Bürger mit Zivilcourage ein Land hat, desto weniger Helden wird es einmal brauchen" ("The more citizens with civil courage a country has, the fewer heroes it needs").[2][3]

Contemporary useEdit

Civil courage has been referred to by psychologist Tobias Greitemeyer as constituting acts of bravery, carried out with the objective of enforcing a societal or ethical standard, without concern for the effect these acts might have on one's own position. This is because this civil courage is often punished since it entails risks and almost ensures ostracism not only from a group that the courageous individual belongs but also from society.[4] In this way, it is distinguished from altruistic behavior and other forms of courage.[5]

In the case of altruistic, helping behavior, an individual might expect to be praised or receive positive social consequences from the result of their having helped, despite possible financial or material loss. In actions where civil courage is demonstrated, the person carrying out the action may experience negative social consequences such as alienation, verbal abuse or violence. Civil courage is displayed when a person, in spite of the perceived threat of negative consequences acts to intervene in a social context.[6] This is demonstrated in the case of whistleblowers, who do not necessarily risk their lives but their action could lead to years in prison.[4]

There are those who associate civil courage to the concept of non-violence attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and cited such association as the cause why it faded as a model of conduct due to the perception that it is uninteresting and boring.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Spring, Ursula (2009). International Security, Peace, Development and Environment - Volume II. Oxford: EOLSS Publishers Co. Ltd. p. 80. ISBN 9781848265332.
  2. ^ "Über Zivilcourage". University of Zurich (in German). Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Franca Magnani". Wikiquote. 2014-02-10. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  4. ^ a b Huff, Mickey; Roth, Andy Lee; Censored, Project (2013-10-08). Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times; The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2012-13. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 9781609804954.
  5. ^ Greitemeyer, Tobias (2007). "Civil courage: Implicit theories, related concepts, and measurement". The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2 (2): 115–119. doi:10.1080/17439760701228789.
  6. ^ Osswald, Silvia (2010). What Is Moral Courage? Definition, Explication, and Classification of a Complex Construct. pp. 149–164. doi:10.1037/12168-008. ISBN 978-1-4338-0807-4. S2CID 23830517.
  7. ^ Kramer, Naomi (2007). Civil Courage: A Response to Contemporary Conflict and Prejudice. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. p. 44. ISBN 9781433100574.