Who do the people want to govern?

John R. Hibbing, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Matthew V. Hibbing, David Fortunato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Relative to the well-developed theory and extensive survey batteries on people’s preferences for substantive policy solutions, scholarly understanding of people’s preferences for the mechanisms by which policies should be adopted is disappointing. Theory rarely goes beyond the assumption that people would prefer to rule themselves rather than leave decisions up to elites and measurement rests largely on four items that are not up to the task. In this article, we seek to provide a firmer footing for “process” research by 1) offering an alternative theory holding that people actually want elites to continue to make important political decisions but want them to do so only after acquiring a deep appreciation for the real-world problems facing regular people, and 2) developing and testing a battery of over 50 survey items, appropriate for cross-national research, that extend understanding of how the people want political decisions to be made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalParty Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • direct democracy
  • governmental processes
  • popular desires
  • stealth democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Who do the people want to govern?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this