"I assume that a key characteristic of a democracy is the continuing responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals." Dahl (1971)
Degrees of Democracy is an ongoing project conducted by Christopher Wlezien at the University of Texas at Austin and Stuart Soroka at the University of Michigan. The primary goal of the project is to explore relationships between public opinion and policy. Our recent work has focused increasingly on exploring inequality in representation, the measurement of policy preferences, and the role of mass media in public responsiveness to policy.
This website documents our work in the field covering a number of countries and issues. The research is intended to provide insight into how institutional structures and policymaking processes affect some of the most fundamental elements of everyday politics - the quality of representation, the nature of policy change, the degree to which public policies reflect public preferences, and the extent to which preferences reflect changes in public policy.
Alongside a series of journal articles, Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public Opinion and Policy has been published by Cambridge University Press. See book reviews in in Perspectives on Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, European Political Science, Political Science Quarterly, and Political Studies.
We've two new project papers in 2015, focused on comparative institutions and democratic responsiveness: Electoral Systems and Opinion Representation, in Representation, and The Majoritarian and Proportional Visions and Democratic Responsiveness, in Electoral Studies. Other Related papers include Political Institutions and the Opinion-Policy Link, Public Reactions to the Economy and Ecnomic Crisis in the UK, and Federalism and Public Responsiveness to Policy. And ongoing work on inequality in American politics - by us, and other scholars - has recently been written up in Vox.
Go directly to all project papers here.