The Substance of Representation
: John S. Lapinski
: United States. Congress, Legislation–United States, United States–Politics and government
: Princeton University Press
IN WRITING THIS BOOK, I often thought about Sisyphus. In Greek mythology,
he was the king who was punished by being forced to roll an immense boulder
up a hill only to watch it roll back down. My metaphorical boulder involved
collecting more data and creating better measures of lawmaking. Fortunately,
I was not compelled to repeat this action forever (though it felt like it). Of
course, I didn’t make those trips up the hill alone. Many people helped me
in this effort. Intellectually, the project began while I was a graduate student
Columbia University. I wrote a paper for a graduate seminar taught by Ira
Katznelson dealing with conceptual issues related to policy substance, the
study of Congress, and American political development. Ira was already my
dissertation chair at the time (along with Nolan McCarty, who was co-chair),
but the paper was a “critical juncture,” as it led to a series of collaborations.
Those collaborative projects have been instrumental to this book. Specifically,
the coding schema in this book is based on our joint work. In addition to being
a terrific co-author, Ira has influenced my own work in more ways than seem
possible. His intellect and work ethic make him a truly inspiring individual.
I owe him a great debt.
Many others deserve credit in the making of this book. Josh Clinton, a
frequent co-author, was instrumental in turning my earlier work on measuring
legislative significance into much more refined and sophisticated work. The
legislative significance measure presented in chapter 4 is based on our collaborative
efforts. He is clearly a partner in this project. There are others who also
provided much good counsel. One of those individuals is David Mayhew. I had
the good fortune to develop a relationship with David during my stint at Yale
University. He is a scholar who provides inspiration and much good advice.
His social science instincts are unparalleled, and his advice was instrumental
for many of the concepts in this book.
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