Reckless representation: An exploratory study of citizen expectations and political power

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Abstract

This paper investigates how citizens perceive and think about political power when confronted with a short-lived governmental "crisis of effectiveness, " Using data generated by a mail survey of Prince George's County, Maryland, residents in the immediate aftermath of the federal government shutdowns of late 1995 and early 1996, the study finds that political sophistication discriminates between perceptions of political power as institutionally sanctioned and based on electoral legitimacy on the one hand, and coercively exercised on the other. Party identification also serves as a perceptual filter, moderating the severity with which the furloughs of federal workers were viewed. The findings indicate that effects of political power may be revealed on a psychological level through citizen expectations about normative political behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131+i
JournalJournal of Political and Military Sociology
Volume32
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2004

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