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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Raymond J. La Raja
When the federal government fails to provide guidance, or takes positions citizens disagree with, the importance of having strong, responsive local political institutions increases. As a result of either longstanding tradition or political reforms, a number of subnational political institutions now include elements of participatory and direct democracy in an effort to cure perceived democratic deficits. In my research, which uses a comparison of traditional, New England (representative) town meetings to city councils, I address the question of how the choice between using large, participation-oriented representative institutions and smaller legislative assemblies affects citizen participation and representation in local politics. My findings demonstrate that though the motives to include elements of direct and participatory democracy in local institutions may be pure and intuitive, communities that use these elements and have large legislative assemblies may in fact impose greater barriers on citizens, resulting in lower and more biased electoral turnout and representation than in comparable communities that use more conventional, smaller legislative bodies.
van Erve, Wouter Marc, "The Paradox of a Town Meeting: The Influence of Forms of Local Government on Citizen Representation" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations. 1407.