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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In no other area of political science is the concept of roles as important as in legislative studies. Roles make political institutions such as parliaments subjective: they are related to positions, but not identical to them. Perceived expectations, personal motivations, and strategic calculations are assumed to differentiate role from position. Eulau and Wahlke’s typology of representational roles, inspired by Burke and based on a study of US state legislatures, has long dominated the study of legislative roles. It is criticized on both theoretical and empirical grounds, in particular for its lack of predictive power. Searing’s typology, based on an inductive study of the UK House of Commons, has attracted most attention as an alternative. Both seminal studies are ambivalent in their treatment of political parties in their role typologies. It is sometimes argued that role analysis is currently regaining importance in legislative studies because of the renewed attention to institutionalist explanations. This chapter is more skeptical, advocating a move from mere description to theoretically grounded explanation in this field.

Keywords: legislative behavior, political representation, parliamentary roles, Eulau-Wahlke typology, Searing’s typology, legislatures, legislative studies, parliaments

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