The consumer citizen /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Porter, Ethan, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2016
Description:1 electronic resource (254 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: John M. Hansen Committee members: William Howell; Eric Oliver; Betsy Sinclair.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-10(E), Section: A.
Summary:The habits, norms and strategies from everyday consumer life---how people decide what to buy, what not to buy and how much they are willing to spend---also play a large role in political decision-making. Citizens are not just citizens; they are consumer-citizens. I test this theory with more than a dozen experiments. Appealing to consumer-citizens as such can have effects on trust in government, redistributive preferences, electoral choices, political participation, political knowledge, and attentiveness to self-interest. The first chapter outlines the theory. The second empirically grounds the rest of the project. To believe that citizens are indeed consumer-citizens, we must first believe that they evaluate government benefits and costs as if they were evaluating a consumer good. Leveraging two unique data sets about natural disasters, I find citizens maintaining such mental calculators.
The third chapter investigates how consumer fairness affects attitudes toward government and taxes. Several experiments show that, like consumers, citizens prefer that government services are "operationally transparent.'" Furthermore, just like consumers, citizens desire government costs and benefits to be "alignable," or roughly equal in value to one another.
The fourth chapter demonstrates that consumer fairness norms help explain citizens' electoral preferences and their enrollment in social programs. When evaluating political candidates, less knowledgeable voters are more likely to rely on consumer decision-making strategies. I then describe an experiment administered in cooperation with a health insurance provider. When health insurance is framed as achieving cost-benefit alignability, more people enroll.
In the fifth chapter, I show that appealing to consumer decision-making habits can increase citizens' political knowledge and engagement. An experiment administered with the distribution of taxpayer receipts in the United Kingdom shows the receipts increased knowledge. A natural experiment, based on evidence from a mobile phone app produced by the city of Boston, shows that government operational transparency spurs political engagement.
In the sixth chapter, I study consumer decision-making and self-interest. Consumer decision-making appears to make subjects better at realizing their short-term self-interest. However, consumer cues also make recognizing far-sighted self-interest more difficult. In the concluding seventh chapter, I remark on the possibilities and limits of the theory.