Citizen Democracy and the Responsiveness of Councillors: The Effects of Democratic Institutionalisation on the Role Orientations and Role Behaviour of Councillors

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In this article the old question: ‘Do institutions matter?’ is answered for institutions that define democratic systems as more citizen-oriented as opposed to systems where political parties play a more important role. The focus is on the possible influence of these institutions on the orientations of local councillors regarding their representative role and on their subsequent role behaviour. It is hypothesises that the influence of citizen democratic institutions runs through the political culture amongst councillors and affects their individual support for participatory governance. With regard to the role orientations of councillors, it was found that there was only a very weak, indirect effect of institutions on how councillors valued responsiveness. This indirect effect runs through the individual and collective value orientations of councillors. First, institutional variations go hand in hand with variations in the collective and individual support of council members for participatory governance. There is a tendency for councillors in citizen democratic systems of local government to be (both individually and collectively) more supportive of the idea of democracy as a system of participatory governance than their colleagues in party democratic systems. Second, these individual and collective value orientations in turn have a positive effect on the value that councillors put on responsiveness. With regard to behavioural responsiveness, we found that the weak, indirect institutional effect of this on role orientations did not have a behavioural effect. Quite the contrary, it was found that there was a negative effect of citizen democratic institutions on behavioural responsiveness. We found that the stronger the citizen democratic institutions in local government, the less councillors maintained contact with citizens and local groups
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-680
JournalLocal government studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2013


  • METIS-296941
  • IR-86644

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