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Outside Looking In Lobbyists' Views on Civil Discourse in U.S. State Legislature


Book cover: outside looking in



Working under a grant from the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), researchers conducted a survey of registered lobbyists and public agency legislative liaison officers in all fifty states, and received over 1,200 completed surveys. In Outside Looking In, scholars from across the country interpret results from a survey of registered lobbyists and public agency legislative in all fifty states. Using a variety of lenses, they present unique perspectives on civil discourse in state legislatures, revealing both regional and national insights. They hope that a better understanding of politicians’ inability to demonstrate civility and reach bipartisan agreements will yield effective, purposeful interventions.

“The volume combines sophisticated academic analysis with observations and wisdom from practitioners who are concerned about state legislative polarization, gridlock, and uncivil behavior.” – James A. Thurber, American University 

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Two Principle Audiences:

This book was conceived and produced for two distinct audiences. The first is composed of participants in the process of state legislative politics in the 50 American states. The second is composed of academics and their students for whom the preferred subject of study is the state legislative process. For both these important audiences, the advent of gridlock and hyper-partisanship in the U.S. Congress has raised two key questions related to civil discourse.

Those two questions are addressed directly in this book: (1) Is this breakdown in the ability to reach bipartisan agreements and demonstrate comity and civility in the discussion of potentially divisive topics taking place in my own home state?; and (2) Is this breakdown in legislative capacity for bipartisan problem-solving taking place in neighboring states, or in states sharing in similar institutional practices and/or matters in dispute coming up on their state legislature’s public agenda?