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Representation and American Governing Institutions

Bryan D. Jones, Heather Larsen-Price and John Wilkerson
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 71, No. 1 (Jan., 2009), pp. 277-290
DOI: 10.1017/s002238160809018x
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1017/s002238160809018x
Page Count: 14
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Representation and American Governing Institutions
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Abstract

AbstractWe isolate two limitations of the existing literature on representation and then move toward some important remedies. The first limitation is that typical representation studies assess the extent to which policymakers’ issue positions correspond to those of the public, but do not investigate whether the issue priorities of policymakers correspond to those of the public. The second limitation is that existing studies do not consider the full policymaking process, from agenda setting to enactment. Using data provided by the Policy Agendas and Congressional Bills Projects, we investigate how well the public's policy priorities have been represented in national policymaking over a 47-year time period. We first assess public concern about 18 major issues using Most Important Problem data (1956–2002) and then correlate these concerns with changing issue attention across 10 policymaking channels that are ordered by differences in institutional friction. We find much closer correspondence where friction is low.

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