"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)
Welcome to the home of ongoing work conducted by Christopher Wlezien at the University of Texas at Austin and Stuart Soroka at the University of Michigan. The primary goal of our work is to explore relationships between public opinion and policy. Our research program is intended to provide insight into how institutional structures, policymaking processes, and mass media news coverage 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 both public preferences and media coverage reflect changes in public policy.
Alongside a series of journal articles, Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public Opinion and Policy was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. See book reviews in Perspectives on Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, European Political Science, Political Science Quarterly, and Political Studies. Ongoing work focuses mainly 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, and Federalism and Public Responsiveness to Policy. And work on inequality in American politics, published as "When Do the Rich Win?" in Political Studies Quarterly, has been written up in Vox. And a full project description is available here.
Our current focus is on an extension of the original project, entitled Mass Media and Representative Democracy. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project explores the ways in which news coverage may facilitate or impede public responsiveness to policy change. Papers are forthcoming. A full project description is available here.
Project descriptions, papers, data, and related content is available on the pages that follow.