Chapter 2: Confronting the research challenge
The central question explored in the present work is whether or not the size of local political-administrative units has any impact on the democratic quality of local government. Ours is not the first inquiry devoted to this topic. Since the seminal work of Dahl and Tufte in 1973, many scholars have taken up the issue in one fashion or another. Previous work on the topic, however, has been beset by a variety of problems. One critical problem has been the lack of appropriate data. Given the almost explosive growth of empirical social science research over the latter half of the twentieth century, it seems paradoxical – indeed bordering on the unbelievable – to posit that inquiries into the possible effects of municipal size on the democratic quality of local government have been hampered by a paucity of appropriate data. Several considerations relating to issues of measurement and data collection nevertheless make this a defensible proposition. These issues pertain to both municipal size, the primary explanatory factor of interest here, and the phenomenon to be explained – namely the quality of local democracy. A second problem encountered in investigating the possible significance of size for the democratic quality of local government has to do with how causal inferences can be made about the effects of municipal size on the attitudes and behaviour of individual citizens amidst a host of potentially relevant intervening and confounding factors.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.