Citizen involvement and state decision-making: The role of context

Marsha Slone Goldberg, University of Pennsylvania


The form and extent of citizen involvement in state decision-making is not uniform across the United States. Although there is a pervasive national culture, each state also appears to have its own unique cultural context. The research examines whether there is an explanatory linkage between the two; whether differences in context can explain differences in citizen involvement. An understanding of the basis for the differences in the access opportunities provided by each state and the citizen response to these opportunities in each state is extremely useful for a planning professional tasked with developing effective citizen participation programs within a specific state context. Using a case study approach, the research examines observed citizen involvement in two types of siting processes in the states of Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas. The siting processes were for the Super Conducting Supercollider (SSC) and for the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility (LLRW). The detailed examination of the components of each state context (political culture, demographic factors and economic structure), and the observed access opportunities and citizen participation in each state provided the basis for determining whether differences in state context adequately explain the observed differences in citizen participation in each state. The determination was made by comparing predicted levels of citizen involvement (based on state contextual factors), with observed forms and levels of involvement in each state. The results of the comparison did not suggest a strong explanatory link between context and citizen involvement, nor did it suggest that there was no relationship. The low level of explanatory power may be attributable to the importance of exogenous factors, such as federal laws and national organizations, in determining the form of citizen involvement.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Political science

Recommended Citation

Goldberg, Marsha Slone, "Citizen involvement and state decision-making: The role of context" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9125653.