The relational nature of legislating Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Kirkland, Justin H.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Since the economic revolution of the 1970's legislative scholars have produced important works examining the relationships between policy preferences and individual choices in a legislature. This focus on understanding individual preferences versus outcomes has led scholars to ignore potential inter-legislator influences on choices. In other words, in the study of relationships between a bill and a legislator scholarship has overlooked the importance of the relationship between one legislator and another legislator. These studies represent an effort to push our theoretical understanding of inter-legislator dynamics forward and build a more comprehensive understanding of how legislators influence, collaborate with, and cooperate with one another. Taken together they provide a unified picture of influence diffusion across a chamber by examining both how relationships between legislators affect outcomes and how institutions affect the formation of legislative relationships. Building on seminal sociological work on the importance of tie strength towards achieving an exogenous goal, I generate a novel theory of influence in a legislature. It will turn out that only the weakest ties between legislators actually produce changes in the probability a legislator will experience success. This is because weak ties between legislators are attempts to generate novel cooperation and support. Strongly tied legislators are strongly tied because of implicit support, thus the observation of the relational tie tells us nothing about their behaviors we could not have learned before a legislative session ever began. Strong ties do not indicate cooperation, they indicate similarity. Weak ties, however, occur between legislators fundamentally different most of the time, but who cooperate on some legislation in order to improve its odds of survival. It will also turn out that the formation of these cooperative ties is fundamentally effected by the behavioral constraints of a chamber. In particular, the nature of an electoral district and the size of a legislative chamber will play key roles in the development of cooperative relationships between legislators.
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  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science.
  • Carsey, Thomas M.

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