AJPS Author Summary – Encouraging Political Voices of Underrepresented Citizens through Coproduction: Evidence from a Randomized Field Trial

Author Summary by Morten Hjortskov,  Simon Calmar Andersen, and Morten Jakobsen

AJPS - FB PostsThe idea in our new study is that involving citizens in the production of public services not only benefits the quality of services but may also motivate citizens to voice their opinions by voting in elections or provide feedback to government in between elections.

The political voice of citizens is central to the functioning of democracy, and it is naturally a major topic for political scientists and anyone concerned with democratic government. How can we provide opportunities and motivation for citizens to participate? How can we enhance the political voice among groups that are typically less inclined to participate?

Through a randomized field experiment, we examine the involvement of citizens in the production of public services and its effect on political voice. Involvement of citizens in the production of public services is captured by the concept of coproduction, i.e., a public service is produced by a mix of input from public employees and citizens receiving the service. In practice, many goods and services are produced this way. A prime example is education. Teachers provide valuable input to students’ education, but students only benefit if they and their parents also contribute to the learning process.

Involving citizens in the joint production of public services may not only improve service outcomes but also motivate citizens to voice their opinion by increasing their knowledge about the government and inducing a sense of obligation to participate. Moreover, they may start seeing themselves as capable and valuable contributors to society. These are all factors that usually affect citizens’ political participation. This gives rise to the idea that involvement in service production enhances political participation.

We study a coproduction program that increased immigrant parents’ involvement in their children’s language learning in preschool. Immigrant parents are normally underrepresented in political processes. A prior study shows that the program benefited the children’s language development. In this new study, we show that involvement also benefits the parents’ political voice as measured by their provision of feedback to government through citizen surveys. Since the parents were randomly assigned to the coproduction treatment group, we are relatively certain that the measured effects are indeed caused by involving parents in cooperating with the preschools.

About the Authors: The three authors hail from Aarhus University; Morten Hjortskov is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Simon Calmar Andersen is Professor in the Department of Political Science, and Morten Jakobsen is Associate Professor in the Department of Management. Their article titled, “Encouraging Political Voices of Underrepresented Citizens through Coproduction: Evidence from a Randomized Field Trial” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

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The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.

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