This workshop invites research that investigates the relationship between public opinion and policy outcomes. While classic works by Schattschneider, Lowi or Wilson examined these linkages, for a long time the empirical analysis of public policies and mass politics have been separate. In recent years, scholars studying public policy developments (especially in the welfare state) have argued that it is necessary to bring public opinion back into the analysis, developing a ‘demand driven’ approach to understanding policy (Brooks and Manza, 2006; Rehm, 2011). Yet even as this work has theorised mass attitudes as a cause of policy, other work suggested that different policy contexts themselves were feeding back into democratic demands.(Gingrich and Ansell, 2012; Campbell, 2012) Moreover, recent work from the United States argues that who policy makers are responsive to may vary across policy contexts (Gilens, 2012). How then do we understand the nexus between the existing political context, voter preferences and policy change?
This workshop investigates these crucial questions, with the goal of bringing
together scholars from policy studies and mass attitudes to investigate how we can better understand feedback loop in democratic public policy making (Are governments responsive to public opinion? Do policies affect individual preferences?).
In particular, we want to focus on how contextual features of advanced democracies – political institutions, interest groups and political parties – moderate these relationships. Moreover, while we are convinced that it is interesting and necessary to study both feedback effects and political responsiveness in a comparative perspective, we are aware of the empirically and inferential challenges in analyzing them. Hence, we particularly encourage contributions that employ novel designs and methods to establish causality or probe the theoretical mechanisms assumed in the existing literature.