Renee Peggs | September 14, 2017
Jeff Harden, an assistant professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science, has won the American Political Science Association’s Virginia Gray Award for the best book on U.S. state politics or policy published in the preceding three calendar years.
In "Multidimensional Democracy: A Supply and Demand Theory of Representation in American Legislatures" (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Harden examines the relationship between what citizens want from their elected state lawmakers and what legislators adopt as their top priorities while in office.
Harden frames his book around four dimensions of representation: policy, constituent services, allocation (economic development and fundraising), and descriptive representation (categories such as gender or race). While these dimensions are each common themes in political science, Harden is among the first in this discipline to emphasize the relationship between the four elements.
“These were essentially four different facets, usually treated in isolation by political scientists,” Harden said. “For a legislator, though, these are all part of the job every day; they meld into one. It made sense to me to bring them all together for the purposes of the book.”
Harden, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2016, was surprised to discover that economic inequality plays a significant role in determining which of the dimensions, according to constituents, should be the focus for an elected representative.
“People who rank policy as most important tend to be economically advantaged,” Harden said. “Not to say that economically disadvantaged people are not interested in their representatives’ policy decisions, but they tend to express a preference for constituent services and bringing money to the district.”