Municipality size, political efficacy and political participation: a systematic review

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It is an old adage that local government is a training ground for democracy. Its human scale means that political amateurs can contribute effectively and meaningfully to the politics of a state. But in a political climate seemingly driven to consolidate local government into ever larger units, can a not so local local government still elicit an efficacious and participatory citizenry? This paper explores the effect of municipality population size on two important aspects of democratic culture: political efficacy and political participation. Via a two-part systematic review, the paper examines how extant empirical literature bears on the relationship between size and both of these aspects, hypothesising that political efficacy plays a mediating role between size and participation. The findings are unequivocal: citizens of smaller municipalities feel a greater sense of political efficacy and participate to a greater degree in local politics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Government Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2019


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