Just 8% of people are directly involved with political parties at a grassroots level, it has emerged.
Political parties have the lowest level of local involvement, with significantly more people donating their time to the local church (29%), charities (26%) and sports club (23%).
The findings are contained in the second Future of Ireland study which also reveals that 20% of people involved in political parties are less involved than before.
One in four people said they were actively involved in their community, but the survey also highlights that it is often an active minority of people driving a lot of community activities.
Those who get involved tend to be either aged under 25 or over 55, people in higher income groups and the retired.
Also, people living in urban areas are likely to be less involved in their communities in voluntary or other roles, compared to those living outside of cities.
The research, conducted earlier this year by Amárach Research, found that a third of people have a strong sense of belonging within their community.
More than half (52%) said they were proud of their community but 13% did not feel this sense of pride. 48% felt their community was somewhat or very receptive to newcomers.
The experience of discrimination is low, with 88% saying they had not experienced discrimination or unfair treatment within their community.
One in four people feel completely safe in their neighbourhoods; half feel safe “for the most part” but 10% felt completely unsafe.
The research published by media agency OMD with the support of Ulster Bank found most (62%) felt safe walking alone in the dark.
Even among those living in Dublin or other urban areas, the vast majority feel safe from crime walking after dark.
It emerged that 16% of adults surveyed had been a victim of crime in their area over the past five years, and 42% of this group did not feel safe.
Three out of 10 people surveyed hold keys for their neighbours, with looking after keys for neighbours highest in Dublin.
Almost half (49%) have four or more close friends, but just under one in 10 have none. Having close friends rises with age from 42% of 16- to 24-year-olds to 57% of over-55s.
Most people also have up to four relatives they feel close to — nearly a third have five or more close relatives, but 12% have none.
Just over half of people (51%) living in city centres said their online life gave them a sense of belonging.
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