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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations