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The Personal and the Political

The Impact of the Personal Background of Representatives on Legislative Decision-Making in the US Congress and the German Bundestag

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Annette Przygoda

Applying theories developed in Psychology, Sociology, Gender Studies and Political Science the text presents a comprehensive study of how legislators are influenced by their personal experiences in their job as representatives. The study analyzes a variety of personal and social characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, class, profession and personal trauma, and with that goes beyond previous attempts to study the policy impact of specific groups. In a broad quantitative approach considering other vital factors in legislative decision-making, the text compares legislative behavior in the US House of Representatives and the German Bundestag, embedding the analysis in a theoretical framework of institutional opportunities and constraints. The results provide detailed insights into a connection of personal experiences and legislative behavior, stressing that the various aspects of the personal background translate differently into representative action. With that, the text presents a re-discovery of Hanna Pitkin‘s multidimensional theory of representation.
Contents: Personality and politics – Institutional opportunities – Personal background and legislate behavior - comparing the German Bundestag and the US Congress – Electoral incentives and symbolic representation.