Watching Washington Work: Exploring Online Home Style
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Understanding the relationship between U.S. Congressional representatives and their constituents is complicated. Some conclude representative behavior is determined by the representative's perception of the district, or home style (Fenno, 1978) while others believe it is central to their role orientations and stylistic patterns (Gross, 1978; Wahlke et al., 1962). To better understand member behavior exhibited in the representative-constituent relationship, many have focused on examining roll-call voting behavior, electoral outcomes, seniority, and member home style: allocation of resources, presentation of self, and explanation of Washington activity to the district (Fenno, 1978). This dissertation advances previous research on the representative-constituent relationship by studying the concept of home style--online. I address online home style questions: 1) Are Congressional websites a rational use of resources? 2) Are MC online and offline presentation of self patterns similar? 3) Do MCs use YouTube videos to explain Washington activity? I argue that representative offline home style patterns are more likely to influence how often representatives use online technology to communicate to constituencies of district and Washington performance. By examining members in the 113th U.S. House of Representatives for online home style, I find that explanation of Washington activity rather than presentation of self more likely to affect representative behavior outcomes. Therefore, while a member's overall home style is critical to the representative-constituent relationship, only explanation of Washington activity has a significant impact on online representative communication priorities.