A Study of Representation Applied to the Local Government Level
Representative democracy is no different from any other political system ever devised in that it does not always function as neatly in reality as it does on paper. Many times, individuals feel as if they are not holding the ultimate source of power, but rather that they are being governed by a small segment of the population. They feel as if they have no control over government policy making once their representative has been elected to office. My original purpose in writing this paper was to be able to show these people that, first of all, they could gain more control over their representatives, and second, in what ways they could best achieve their goal. This paper attempts to illustrate the validity of these two claims in the following manner. Chapter one examines the term representative government and how various theorists define the goals of such a system. It also examines the two ways in which representatives try to do their job. There is the concept of the delegate and that of the trustee. Which role the representative chooses to play influences the types of decisions that will come out of the legislative process. Also in this chapter, it is pointed out that the behavior of the constituency is a major factor which the representative must take into account as he decides which role he will try to fill. Chapter two discusses the role of linkage mechanisms in providing responsive government. It describes the two basic categories of linkages, coercive and non-coercive, and emphasizes the importance of the representative's perception as the path through which all demands must pass before they will have any effect on the representative's role call behavior. Finally it presents the various linkages through which the public can communicate their demands to the representatives. Some of these linkages are more effective than others, and some are more appropriate for different groups of people. It is through these linkages that the representative forms his perceptions of the constituency. Finally, the theories of chapters one and two are applied specifically to the local government level.If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to this SIP.