Bringing Representation Home: State Legislators among Their Constituencies

By Michael A. Smith | Go to book overview
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2

Constructing Roles from the Representatives' Perspectives Literature and Methods

[T]he core problem involved in representation is the relation
ship that exists between representative and represented.

—Heinz Eulau, “Changing Views of Representation”

This study does not make any grand claims for “role theory.” The twelve state legislators' roles emerge as groupings of the data, informed by my own experiences interviewing and observing them in their home districts. In Chapters 3 through 6, I group the descriptions and analysis of each representative's behavior in terms of a predominant role. The roles are described in those chapters. These generalizations emerged from my own observations and subsequent descriptions of how the representatives present themselves to their constituents.


Existing Literature: Roles and Interactions

My work here is informed by, but not identical to, the theoretical orientation found in Donald D.Searing's seminal study of British Members of Parliament (MPs).Like Searing, I conceptualize a legislator's behavior as a sort of role, constrained by both institutional arrangements and personal goals. Like Searing, I do not seek to develop a “role theory” which can serve as a general “covering law,

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