My Research Project

For my dissertation, I consider the effects of participation procedures on the perceived legitimacy of decisions and political systems. My main focus is on the potential legitimacy enhancing effects of representativeness on the input level of the procedures, as well as the relationship between input representativeness and the quality of the procedures’ throughput. The design of the procedure tends to influence both representativeness of input and throughput quality and should be included a main predictor in my analysis. Evaluating the potential scope of influence of designing a process may help us (and local municipalities willing to implement participatory procedures) to gain useful knowledge concerning inclusive design features to implement in future procedures.

The representativeness of input will be conceptualized on the basis of existing mobility needs differing by socio-demographic group affiliation. Only selective mobility needs may thus due to sociodemographic differences in political participation be systematically over-/underrepresented in the procedures. A more descriptive representation of different groups is considered to provide a larger representation of different demands in planning/the division of public space. Higher substantive representation (i.e. the representation of ideas) of all societal groups is thereby expected to have a stronger legitimacy enhancing effect. Besides this indirect effect direct effects of descriptive representation enhancing legitimacy beliefs are expected.

However, descriptive representation alone does not seem to be sufficient if one wants to negotiate questions of the representation of infrastructural requirements through participation in planning procedures. The design of the participation procedures will play a decisive role, both in questions of input and in questions considering quality of output. But which design decisions are potentially leading to more inclusive procedures? After coding the procedures on the basis of defined criteria (e.g. the choice of language in announcements, speaking times/group work as an element of discussion) I try to evaluate to what extent the representativeness of procedures can be shaped by the influence of the organizing units.

In a final step, the macro factors that are a condition for descriptive and substantial representation, but also for mobility needs, should be reflected. The focus will be primarily on socio-structural heterogeneity/homogeneity, whose influence can be found primarily in the flow of information in the course of the procedure, but also in the integrative potential of heterogeneous living environments. Furthermore, heterogeneous living environments are, under the condition of different mobility styles and preferences, considered to contribute to a stronger mobilization, since they are expected to induce more conflict in redistributive questions concerning urban space. These macro factors could also be decisive for legitimacy beliefs in general.

For the methodological implementation of the project, various quantitative statistical methods of analysis will be applied – preferably structural equation models, as these have advantages when evaluating attitudes. In addition, multi-group comparisons in structural equation models enable meaningful analyses of groups differentiated on a theoretical basis. Furthermore, our case study database enables statistical analyses with macro data. In addition, elements of quantitative text analysis will be used in the dissertation project on the differentiation of speech patterns in the design of recruitment advertising or personalized invitation for participation procedures, but also in the evaluation of comments made by participants. All these methods may enable a deeper understanding of questions of the interactions between representation of mobility needs in input, output and their effects on legitimacy beliefs in different contexts.