Central city size, metropolitan institutions and political participation

Christine A. Kelleher, David Lowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Despite decades of research, our understanding of how institutional contexts influence urban political participation remains muddled. It is argued here that this confusion arises from the diversity of competing hypotheses, failures to conceptualize the causal processes underlying these hypotheses thoroughly, and the use of inadequate controls for rival hypotheses. A more comprehensive specification of the relationship between metropolitan jurisdictional contexts and two modes of participation is provided. After a presentation of a theoretical framework organizing the many extant hypotheses, these are tested, using survey data collected by the Knight Foundation from 2002 in twenty-five urban counties. Contrary to prior work, it is found that the size of local governments is positively associated with participation, while governmental fragmentation diminishes the propensity for political action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-92
Number of pages34
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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