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1 - Sunshine in the Statehouse

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

In this chapter we introduce the framework of principal-agent models of representation. We develop the idea of legislators as agents of constituent principals and consider the role of private information in the ability of those principals to hold legislators accountable for their actions. We then expand this general theoretical framework to cover the role of open meetings laws themselves. We contend that transparency reveals useful substantive information about the policymaking process that constituents can use to evaluate their representatives. We discuss a theoretical tension over transparency: proponents’ views of its centrality to democratic accountability versus opponents’ claim that it inhibits legislators’ ability to work. We highlight the importance of resolving this tension for political science in general and in the specific case of American state politics. We discuss our research design strategy and methodological approach and summarize each chapter of the book.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Illusion of Accountability
Transparency and Representation in American Legislatures
, pp. 1 - 32
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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