Current studies on civic engagement offer a critical examination of global civil society’s struggles for a sustainable future. The liberal conception of civic engagement sees citizens as voluntary and participatory political subjects in their capacity to achieve a sustainability agenda. In Asia, such conceptions meet with the complex nature of power relations. Using a Gramscian approach and interpretive analysis, this paper draws on the struggles for hegemony, where power relations manifest subtly in state policy, market economy and civil society domains. Learning from the transformative learning experiences of various civil society actors, this study argues that in Asian realities, civic engagement is deeply concerned with the underlying structure of power, forms of negotiation and power dynamics. Political asymmetry is often made implicit by the privileged or uncritically internalized in civic life. There is a need to examine civic engagement as part of “the political”, in which antagonism and contradiction are constitutive to social change. Furthermore, civic engagement can, and does, stimulate citizens’ deliberate and concerted action against inequality, injustice and indignity.