1 The Unanswered Question of Legislative Perceptions

Abstract

In his influential study of House members in their districts, Richard Fenno asked: “What does the representative see when he or she goes home to look at the represented?” He then followed this question by asking about the effects of a legislator’s view of his district: “How does what he or she sees affect his or her representational activity? What can we learn, from this perspective, about the nature, the quality, and the problem of representation in this country?”1 Although Fenno posed these questions from the district vantage point and explored the ways in which members interact with constituents when they are in the district, he also called attention to the importance of considering how members see their constituents from Washington, D.C. Legislators spend the majority of their time in Washington, where they make countless decisions about what actions to take or not to take, and they do this with their constituents “in mind.” As a result, the questions Fenno posed when examining legislators in their districts can be restated in terms of legislators in Washington: When a representative considers how to best represent the interests of his district in the policy-making process, who does he see back in the district? Furthermore, how does his view of the district influence his representational activity? This book argues that legislative perceptions of constituents are at the heart of the answers to these questions. The congressional literature has devoted much attention to issues of constituency representation. As part of this tradition, an earlier generation of scholars highlighted the importance of legislative

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Miler20101TU, title={1 The Unanswered Question of Legislative Perceptions}, author={Kristina Miler}, year={2010} }