Legislative oversight and the substantive representation of black and Latino interests in congress

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Abstract

When determining whether or not legislators are representing their constituents' interests, scholars using voting studies may overstate the role of strategic factors, such as reelection goals and constituent influence, while understating the effect of descriptive characteristics. I argue that race and ethnicity matter in congressional oversight of bureaucratic policymaking. My examination of hearing transcripts from the 107th Congress indicates that minority legislators are more likely than white legislators to participate in racial-oversight hearings but not more likely than whites to participate in social welfare hearings. The results show that descriptive representation contributes to substantive representation, even if the costs of participating outweigh the electoral benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-218
Number of pages26
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2009

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