The Public Side of Representation: A Study of Citizens' Views about Representatives and the Representative Process

The Public Side of Representation: A Study of Citizens' Views about Representatives and the Representative Process

by Christopher J. Grill
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0791471691

ISBN-13: 9780791471692

Pub. Date: 08/23/2007

Publisher: State University of New York Press

Representation lies at the very heart of our political system, yet few attempts have been made to examine citizens' views about the representative process. The Public Side of Representation fills that void. Through a series of in-depth interviews, Christopher J. Grill explores people's abstract beliefs about representation, expectations for members of Congress, views

Overview

Representation lies at the very heart of our political system, yet few attempts have been made to examine citizens' views about the representative process. The Public Side of Representation fills that void. Through a series of in-depth interviews, Christopher J. Grill explores people's abstract beliefs about representation, expectations for members of Congress, views on the representative-constituent relationship, and conceptions of Congress as an institution. The resulting analysis describes what the participants view as the essential building blocks of the representative process, depicts how they think representatives should make voting decisions, explains what they believe are the most important roles for members of Congress, and appraises their understanding of the actual representative process. Highly readable and accessible, The Public Side of Representation provides greater insight into American politics, citizens' expectations about government, and the roots of public discontent with the contemporary political process.

About the Author:
Christopher J. Grill is an independent research consultant living in Rensselaer, New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791471692
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
08/23/2007
Pages:
220
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction and Overview     1
A Crisis of Representation?     1
The Missing Public     3
A Different Approach     5
Research Methodology     9
Introduction     9
Approaching the Subject     10
The Research Process: Instrument and Interviews     13
The Research Process: Coding and Analysis     15
Profile of Respondents     16
The Idea of Political Sophistication     17
Conclusion     19
The Idea of Representation     21
Introduction     21
The Nature of Responsiveness: Preface     22
Attentiveness     26
Openness and Accessibility     27
Involvement: Visibility and Direct Contact     28
Communication: The Heart of Representation     34
Concluding Remarks     42
Representation in Practice     43
Introduction     43
Communication: Opportunities and Pitfalls     44
Making Voting Decisions: The Hypotheticals     47
Resolving Decision-Making Dilemmas     48
Vital Representational Functions: Explanation and Education     54
Assessment: Fenno, With Some Twists     64
The Representative Relationship     67
Introduction     67
Representatives Defined     68
Members' Job Obligations     72
Role Expectations: The Rank Scales     77
Assessment     82
Representatives as Political Models?     83
"A Tough Job": Being a Representative     86
Members' Burdens: The Inherent Conflicts of Representation     90
The Balancing Act of Representation     93
Concluding Remarks     94
Institutional Representation     97
Introduction     97
Conceptions of Congress     98
Institutional Roles: The Rank Scales     100
Assessment     103
View of the Congressional Democratic Process     104
The State of the Representative Process     109
Improving the Representative Process     113
Conclusion: Conceptualizing Congress     120
The Public Side of Representation     123
Revisiting the Idea of Representation: Insights and Implications     123
Institutional Representation     130
Surprising Sensitivity-and Blind Spots     131
Public Beliefs and the Representative Process     135
Some Final Thoughts     140
Research Instruments     143
Interview Excerpts     149
Coding Tables     156
Notes     165
Bibliography     197
Index     203

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