Rational Participation: The Politics of Relative Power

Robert Goodin, John Dryzek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Survey researchers have been reporting, for two decades or more, that a citizen's decision to participate in politics is most strongly influenced by his subjective sense of efficacy. Those who feel able to make a great impact tend to participate vigorously, while those who feel impotent tend to withdraw. According to the conventional wisdom all this is mostly inside one's head, with few objective – much less rational – referents. For example, social psychologists, and political researchers under their spell, see subjective efficacy as a mere reflection of ‘ego strength’. The more sociologically-inclined see psycho-cultural values (such as ‘civic orientation’) producing a sense of efficacy which, once again, bears little relationship to one's real influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-292
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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