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7 - Attitudinal Consequences

from Part II - Transparency and The Mass Public

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2022

Justin H. Kirkland
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Jeffrey J. Harden
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
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Summary

Next, Chapter 7 extends our analysis of the public’s response to open deliberation within legislatures using standard survey questions from the CES. We begin by showing that citizens in states with open meetings laws are more likely to respond to a state legislative political knowledge question with a “don’t know” response. Additionally, those in open meetings states who provide a substantive response are less likely to know the correct answer compared to citizens in states with closed meetings who answer substantively. We then demonstrate that among those who identify with the party controlling the legislature, open meetings are associated with an increase in state legislative approval. Thus, this chapter (and the previous one) paint a picture of a public in transparency states that approves of its legislature, but does not actually know more about it. The key information link that represents the mechanism of our proposed theory is missing. This finding helps explain why representative behavior does not change in the wake of transparency reforms; the public does not engage with new information provided by these reforms enough to motivate adaptation by legislators.

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Chapter
Information
The Illusion of Accountability
Transparency and Representation in American Legislatures
, pp. 196 - 217
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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