Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schraufnagel, Scot D.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Representative government and representation--United States--States; Legislative bodies--United States--States; City councils--United States--States; Minorities--Politics and government; Women--Politics and government; Political science


Representation and legislative responsiveness are vital components of a functional democracy. In representative democracies legislators are elected to stand for, and act on behalf of, the citizenry. Although fundamental to the effectiveness of America's political system, both representation and responsiveness can be influenced by external factors such as legislature and constituency size. What follows is an exploration of representation and responsiveness in American states and cities through the lens of legislature and constituency size. All 50 states are included in the analyses as well as cities with populations of at least 100,000 people as of the 2010 decennial census. In sum, this dissertation suggests that racial minorities and women are underrepresented by state legislatures and city councils. Furthermore, larger legislatures are more descriptively representative than their smaller counterparts, especially among non-Whites and Latino/as. Plus, as constituencies grow, better education outcomes suffer and poverty rates increase, on average. The totality of the findings indicate that real implications emerge when political constituencies grow too large.


Advisors: Scot Schraufnagel.||Committee members: Rebecca Hannagan; Alicia Schatteman.


216 pages




Northern Illinois University

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