In recent research Verba and Nie and Hansen have provided systematic evidence on the positive effects of mass participation on other aspects of the public policy process. Specifically, Verba and Nie demonstrated that for data on American communities, a curvilinear relationship exists between the level of mass political participation and the extent of elite-mass agreement on ‘policy agenda’ items. The effect of this relationship is such that the highest agreement, or ‘attitude concurrence’, is found in those communities with the highest levels of participation. Working with the same data, Hansen3 showed that the competitiveness of elections also influences concurrence independently and that there was an interaction effect of participation and competition on policy-agenda agreement. The interaction was such that attitude concurrence was highest in communities with especially high levels of both participation and competition.
* School of Professional Studies, University of Houston at Clear Lake City; and Department of Political Science, University of Houston.