Size and local democracy: Scale effects in city politics

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12 Scopus citations


As James Madison would not hesitate to tell us, the scale of a polity or jurisdiction is one of the most basic factors organizing political life. By scale, I refer to the number of inhabitants (or, alternately, constituents or voters) in a political unit, although geographic size may also shape political behavior. Large jurisdictional scale implies that candidates for office must campaign in larger constituencies, necessitating more use of paid media, more fundraising effort, and professional campaign advice. To residents of large-scale polities, government often seems distant, remote, and bureaucratic, and the intercession of interest groups, lobbyists, or organized protest activity may be more necessary to access or influence public officials. In these and other ways, the incentives, constraints, and opportunities facing politicians and citizens alike tend to differ systematically depending on a jurisdiction's scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-109
Number of pages3
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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