The Journal of Politics


The Relational Determinants of Legislative Outcomes: Strong and Weak Ties Between Legislators

Justin H. Kirklanda1

a1 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


In the repeated interactions of a legislative session, legislators develop working relationships that can be used in the pursuit of legislative goals. I develop a theory of influence diffusion across a legislative network of relations based on strategic actors building relationships in order to increase legislative success. Building on sociological theory initially developed by Granovetter, my research indicates that it is the weak ties between legislators that are the most useful in increasing legislative success. I test my theory using state legislative data from eight state legislatures, along with a second analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives. Empirical analysis provides consistent support for the notion that weak ties lead to legislative success.

(Online publication August 03 2011)


Justin H. Kirkland is a Graduate Student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599.