Politics, Expertise, and Interdependence within Electorates

T. K. Ahn, Robert Huckfeldt, Alexander K. Mayer and John B. Ryan

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Politics, Expertise, and Interdependence within Electorates

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  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article reviews the role of politically expert citizens as primary movers within a democratic political process characterized by patterns of interdependence among citizens. It also argues that the problem is mitigated through the patterns of interdependence realized in the form of complex networks of political communication. The difference between knowledge and expertise is also considered. One of the enduring innovations of the political economy literature on citizenship is to take information costs seriously in the analysis of political communication and expertise. The various aggregate and dynamic implications of heterogeneous networks for democratic politics and political communication are quite profound. Civic capacity in the aggregate benefits from the diffusion of expert opinion within and throughout networks of political communication. Political communication is not an antiseptic exercise in civic education.

Keywords: political communication; civic capacity; expertise; interdependence; knowledge; political economy; citizenship; aggregate; democratic politics

Article.  8993 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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