Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

21st Century Democracy

How is our democracy adapting to the potential of the Internet?

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Most of my research in this area has examined the impact of the Internet on the relationship between citizens and their representatives.

The Connecting to Congress project, which I’ve led with Kevin Esterling and Michael Neblo, has focused on how Members of Congress have (and have not) utilized the Internet, and also conducted field experiments to examine the impact of online townhalls on citizens.

21st Century Democracy: Publications List

Publications list

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, “Means, Motive, & Opportunity in Becoming Informed About Politics: A Deliberative Field Experiment with Members of Congress and Their Constituents,” Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming.

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, “Estimating Treatment Effects in the Presence of Noncompliance and Nonresponse: The Generalized Endogenous Treatment Model”, Political Analysis, forthcoming.

K. Esterling, M. Neblo, and D. Lazer, Connecting to Constituents: The Diffusion of Representation Practices among Congressional Websites, Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming.

M. Binz-Scharf, D. Lazer, and I. Mergel,  Searching for answers: Networks of Practice among Public Administrators. American Review of Public Administration, 41(2), 2012: 202-225.

K. Esterling, D. Lazer, and M. Neblo, “Representative Communication: Website Interactivity & Distributional Path Dependence in the U.S. Congress,” Political Communication, 28, 2011:  409-439.

D. Lazer, K. Esterling and M. Neblo, “The Internet and the Madisonian Cycle:  Possibilities and Prospects for Consultative Representation,” in S. Coleman and P. Shane, Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication.  MIT Press, 2011. 

D. Lazer, I. Mergel, C. Ziniel, K. Esterling, and M. Neblo, “The multiple institutional logics of innovation,” International Public Management Journal, 14, 2011: 311-340.

 M. Neblo, K. Esterling, R. Kennedy, D. Lazer, and A. Sokhey, Who wants to deliberate—and Why,” American Political Science Review 104(3), 2010:  566-583.
Awarded Heinz Eulau award for best paper in the APSR in 2010.

 V. Mayer-Schönberger, and D. Lazer, Governance and Information Technology. From Electronic Government to Information Government, MIT press 2007

V. Mayer-Schönberger, and D. Lazer, Governance and Information Technology: From Electronic Government to Information Government, MIT press: 2007.

Developments in information and communication technology and networked computing over the past two decades have given rise to the notion of electronic government, most commonly used to refer to the delivery of public services over the Internet. This volume argues for a shift from the narrow focus of "electronic government"...more at MIT Press. Purchase from Amazon, B&N.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
01/2015
Authors: 
William Minozzi
Michael Neblo
Kevin M. Esterling
David Lazer

Do leaders persuade? Social Scientists have long studied the relationship between elite behavior and mass opinion. However, there is surprisingly little evidence regarding direct persuasion by leaders. Here we show that political leaders can persuade their constituents directly on three dimensions: substantive attitudes regarding policy issues, attributions regarding the leaders' qualities, and subsequent voting behavior.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
04/2015
Authors: 
Ryan P. Kennedy
Brian Keegan
Eric Forbush
David Lazer

This article advocates a lesson plan for introductory comparative politics and elections courses. The authors argue that Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia) provides a unique platform for improving learning outcomes and a useful social good from traditional student papers on elections.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
07/2015
Authors: 
David Lazer
Anand E. Sokhey
Michael Neblo
Kevin M. Esterling
Ryan P. Kennedy

Do formal deliberative events influence larger patterns of political discussion and public opinion? Critics argue that only a tiny number of people can participate in any given gathering and that deliberation may not remedy - and may in fact exacerbate - inequalities. We assess these criticisms with an experimental design merging a formal deliberative session with data on participants' social networks.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
08/2015
Authors: 
Drew B. Margolin
Brian Keegan
Sasha Goodman
Yu-Ru Lin
David Lazer

The use of socio-technical data to predict elections is a growing research area. We argue that election prediction research suffers from under-specified theoretical models that do not properly distinguish between 'poll-like' and 'prediction market-like' mechanisms understand findings.

Keywords: 
election prediction
crowdsourcing
Wikipedia
politics
social media
communication studies
Journal Article
Publication date: 
03/2017
Authors: 
Michael Neblo
William Minozzi
Kevin M. Esterling
Jon Green
Jonathan Kingzette
David Lazer

The bitterly factious 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign was the culmination of several trends that, taken together, constitute a syndrome of chronic ailments in the body politic. Ironically, these destructive trends have accelerated just as science has rapidly improved our understanding of them and their underlying causes. But mere understanding is not sufficient to repair our politics.

Journal Article
Publication date: 
08/2010
Authors: 
Kevin Esterling
Michael Neblo
David Lazer
Anand E. Sokhey
Ryan P. Kennedy

Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists, political scientists, activists, and even government officials. Many scholars, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition.