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Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Raymond J. La Raja

Second Advisor

Brian Schaffner

Third Advisor

Matt Streb

Subject Categories

American Politics

Abstract

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.

Available for download on Sunday, September 01, 2019

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