A Legislature or a Legislator Like Me? Citizen Demand for Collective and Dyadic Political Representation

29 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013 Last revised: 20 Aug 2013

See all articles by Jeffrey J. Harden

Jeffrey J. Harden

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science

Chris

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 20, 2013

Abstract

American politics scholars have long distinguished between collective and dyadic forms of representation. Collective representation refers to a citizen being represented on a salient dimension by the membership of the legislature as a whole, whereas dyadic representation refers to a citizen being represented on that dimension by the elected official in his or her district. Most research on collective and dyadic representation focuses on elite-level outcomes such as policy output or roll-call behavior. This work finds that both collective and dyadic representation can lead to citizen interests being represented in government. However, the literature lacks an analysis of the ``demand'' side of representation---whether constituents themselves prefer collective or dyadic representation. Through a novel survey experiment administered to national samples of Americans, we examine whether citizens prefer collective or dyadic representation on two important dimensions: race and party. We posit that, overall, citizens prefer collective over dyadic representation, but also that the relative importance of each one is different for black citizens than it is for partisans. We show results that support two of three hypotheses stemming from this framework, then conclude by discussing the implications for political representation, electoral winners and losers, and race and partisanship as social group identities.

Keywords: Collective representation, Dyadic representation, Race, Partisanship, Survey experiments

Suggested Citation

Harden, Jeffrey J. and Clark, Christopher, A Legislature or a Legislator Like Me? Citizen Demand for Collective and Dyadic Political Representation (August 20, 2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2300891

Jeffrey J. Harden (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science ( email )

333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
United States

HOME PAGE: http://spot.colorado.edu/~jeha9919/

Christopher Clark

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Political Science ( email )

361 Hamilton Hall
CB#3265
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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