Poster Paper: Winning the Fight for Democracy: The Impact of Local Policy

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kristina M. Patterson and Austin Hinkley, Georgia Southern University

It has been said that the fight for democracy will be fought and won at the local level. Local governments are faced with demographic factors that are correlated with political participation, including concentrated disadvantage, racial and ethnic segregation, mobility, and other factors which predict disengagement from civic life. We examine the extent to which local government policy can overcome these factors. Using the Empowered Participatory Governance framework (Fung and Wright, 2003), we estimate the impact of local government policy on political participation. We use quantitative methods and comparative case studies to explore evidence from a range of Georgia localities and find that local government policy that engages diverse perspectives by including meaningful citizen input has a positive impact on political participation, particularly in those cities with factors that predict disengagement. Comparative case studies of cities that are demographically similar, but have vastly different outcomes explained by local policy offer avenues for future research, as well as inform best practices for practitioners.