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A Reconceptualization of Representational Role Theory

Eugene J. Alpert
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 4, No. 4 (Nov., 1979), pp. 587-603
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/439406
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Reconceptualization of Representational Role Theory
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Abstract

This study proposes a reconceptualization of representational role theory in light of the inconclusive and contradictory evidence that continues to appear in the literature regarding the responsiveness of delegates, trustees, or politicos to perceived constituency opinion. It is argued that the choice of role does not necessarily reflect a legislator's desire to be more or less concerned with responding to district opinion, as opposed to his own attitudes, but reflects a broader concern related to the reduction of uncertainty about constituency preferences in order to increase the probability of winning election. Using a subjective decision making approach, it is hypothesized that legislators are likely to adopt policy positions that reflect their confidence in their perceptions of district opinion formulated on the basis of available information about district opinion. Traditionally, from an objective viewpoint, this behavior has been classified as role playing, when in actuality, the results show it may be simply a matter of rational choice.

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