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Bridging the Information Gap

Legislative Member Organizations as Social Networks in the United States and the European Union

Nils Ringe

Publication Year: 2013

Legislative member organizations (LMOs)—such as caucuses in the U.S. Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament—exist in lawmaking bodies around the world. Unlike parties and committees, LMOs play no obvious, predefined role in the legislative process. They provide legislators with opportunities to establish social networks with colleagues who share common interests. In turn, such networks offer valuable opportunities for the efficient exchange of policy-relevant—and sometimes otherwise unattainable—information between legislative offices. Building on classic insights from the study of social networks, the authors provide a comparative overview of LMOs across advanced, liberal democracies. In two nuanced case studies of LMOs in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, the authors rely on a mix of social network analysis, sophisticated statistical methods, and careful qualitative analysis of a large number of in-depth interviews.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

About the Authors, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

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1. Bridging the Information Gap: The Social and Political Power of Legislative Member Organizations

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pp. 1-17

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, a number of lawmakers and commentators put forward a short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful proposal that the U.S. Congress have the option to do its work remotely—a “virtual Congress,” they called it (R. Cohen 2002). The proposal was fueled in part by widespread speculation that the...

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2. Solutions to Informational Collective Action Dilemmas: Theorizing the Benefits of Legislative Member Organizations

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pp. 18-49

In this chapter we lay out our argument about the role and value of legislative member organizations (LMOs) in legislative politics. We propose that LMOs allow legislators to build relationships with each other and that the social networks composed of these relationships provide for an efficient exchange of high-quality information inside the chamber. LMOs thus help...

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3. Where in the World Are LMOs?

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pp. 50-74

Legislative member organizations (LMOs) exist in a great number of legislatures. They are a more widespread phenomenon than most people—including most legislative scholars—realize. In this chapter, we seek to answer two elementary but exceedingly important questions: First, where do LMOs exist, and second, what factors affect the likelihood that LMOs will...

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4. Building the Case: Legislative Member Organizations in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress

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pp. 75-110

This chapter introduces two legislatures whose legislative member organizations (LMOs) we analyze as case studies to investigate their role in legislative politics. Our two cases are intergroups in the European Parliament and congressional member organizations (CMOs), usually referred to as caucuses, in the U.S. Congress.1 We use these cases in three empirical chapters to evaluate in detail our theoretical propositions about the value of LMOs...

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5. Networking the Legislators

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pp. 111-145

Legislative member organizations (LMOs) give legislators opportunities to establish relationships with colleagues with whom they would not otherwise share social ties, thereby providing an institutional solution to a collective problem. Such relationships give lawmakers access to information that would be at best costly to acquire or at worst unattainable. We investigate...

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6. There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Information (in Legislative Politics)

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pp. 146-184

Our analyses of the legislative member organization (LMO) networks in the European Parliament (EP) and the U.S. Congress confirm that LMO ties are bridging ties that connect legislators who, in the absence of LMOs, would be less connected to each other. Such networks facilitate the flow of policy-relevant information in legislative politics. Showing that LMO networks...

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7. Conclusion: How LMOs Do and Do Not Matter

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pp. 185-212

One big question yet to be considered is to what extent the activities of legislative member organizations (LMOs) are consequential in that they affect the content of legislation. This is a difficult issue to address, because we expect the influence of LMOs to be diffuse and indirect. In fact, our theoretical argument about the strength of weak, cross-cutting ties, the exchange of...

Appendix A. Survey Questions

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pp. 213-214

Appendix B. Exponential Random Graph Models

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pp. 215-216

Notes

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pp. 217-242

References

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pp. 243-264

Index

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pp. 265-274


E-ISBN-13: 9780472029211
E-ISBN-10: 0472029215
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118809
Print-ISBN-10: 0472118803

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 14 figures, 36 tables
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Legislative bodies.
  • Legislators -- Social networks -- United States.
  • Legislators -- Social networks -- European Union countries.
  • Public administration -- Social aspects.
  • Political sociology.
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