Alt Title

A municipal case study

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rubin, Irene

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Public administration--Citizen participation--Case studies


This dissertation explores the nature and state of district representation in one case study city through the lens of a newly created citizen participation program. Elected executive and council members as well as city employees were interviewed and re-interviewed over a 2.5 year period between 1999–2002. The dissertation suggests the possibility that underlying, even motivating, citizen participation and decentralization efforts in city government is a role definition for council representatives. Through interviewing, the study found that elected officials, including council members, make a clear distinction between city-wide and district-level representation, and a majority prefer that council representation be confined to the latter. The citizen participation effort in the case study city reflects and reinforces this majority view. A minority number of representatives were aware, however, that this role definition, and by extension the citizen participation program, limits their reach and ultimate effectiveness on issues actually vital to their constituents. Thus, while the citizen participation effort provided some needed ward assistance, by maintaining this distinction between ward and city, citizen participation efforts may disempower representatives and citizens. Because the majority in this study regards a more powerful or far-reaching district representation as negative, preferring instead a citizen participation or administrative-based approach to representation, the study suggests citizen participation itself should be made stronger and considered from a statutory perspective akin to federal bureaucratic decision-making.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [109]-115).


vii, 115 pages




Northern Illinois University

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