Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Carrie Manning

Second Advisor

Charles Hankla

Third Advisor

Sean Richey

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey R. Young


This dissertation seeks to understand when and why ordinary citizens in Africa initiate contacts with their Member of Parliament. It fills an important gap in the literature by probing the roles of intermediary informal institutions to facilitate interactions between citizens and their representatives. To answer this question, I analyze cross-national survey data with logistic regression models, three-stage-least square regression models, and seemingly unrelated regressions, using Afrobarometer survey data from over dozen African countries. I find that African citizens use two intermediary informal institutions to contact their representatives: grassroots organization and traditional and religious authorities. Importantly, these channels help to strengthen the weak political attachment ordinary citizens have with their political systems in Africa. I also show that the key causal factor to contact between MPs and their constituents is MPs displaying a willingness to listen to their constituents.