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The Illusion of Accountability


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Table of Contents

1. Sunshine in the Statehouse; Part I. Transparency and State Legislatures: 2. The Open Meetings Movement; 3. Measuring Legislative Transparency; 4. Compromise; 5. Representation; Part II. Transparency and the Mass Public: 6. Public Demand for Open Meetings; 7. Attitudinal Consequences of Open Meetings; 8. The Electoral Connection; 9. Does Democracy Require Transparency; References; Index.

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This book shows that legislative transparency does not impact representation directly, but instead aids organized interests in influencing legislatures.

About the Author

Justin H. Kirkland is Associate Professor of Politics and Policy in the Department of Politics and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. He is the co-author of Indecision in American Legislatures (2018) and Roll Call Rebels (2018). Jeffrey J. Harden is Andrew J. McKenna Family Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Multidimensional Democracy (2016) and co-author of Indecision in American Legislatures (2018).


'Does governing in sunshine improve democratic governance? In this authoritative and compelling book, Kirkland and Harden probe the origins and consequences of transparency in U.S. state legislatures. The Illusion of Accountability reveals the dark side of governing in the light: Organizing interests, not American voters, benefit from our commitments to legislative sunshine. A must-read for students, scholars, and reformers alike.' Sarah A. Binder, Professor of Political Science, George Washington University
'Transparency laws are so widespread and accepted in American governments that we rarely bother to actually assess their consequences. With impressive clarity and decisiveness, Harden and Kirkland find that these laws are actually making things worse, enabling organized interests to exert greater control over legislatures. This vital text demonstrates the difference between good government and the perception of good government.' Seth E. Masket, Professor of Political Science, University of Denver
'This book is a must-read for scholars of state politics, legislative politics, and those who seek data-driven, scholarship-informed perspectives on the causes and consequences of efforts to enhance transparency in lawmaking processes. Those who seek to reform American institutions of democracy will have to wrestle with these important findings.' Alan E. Wiseman, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Economy, Vanderbilt University

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