Reviewing the literature on political participation and civic engagement, the article offers a critical examination of different conceptual frameworks. Drawing on previous definitions and operationalisations, a new typology for political participation and civic engagement is developed, highlighting the multidimensionality of both concepts. In particular, it makes a clear distinction between manifest “political participation” (including formal political behaviour as well as protest or extra-parliamentary political action) and less direct or “latent” forms of participation, conceptualized here as “civic engagement” and “social involvement”. The article argues that the notion of “latent” forms of participation is crucial to understand new forms of political behaviour and the prospects for political participation in different countries. Due to these innovations it contributes to a much-needed theoretical development within the literature on political participation and citizen engagement.