Parker fathoms the paradox of an institution in low repute, but filled with trusted, hard-working, easily reelected members. . . . Parker shows how, by frequent district visits and use of official perquisites, constituent trust is cultivated. Casework, days in session, roll calls, bills, and hearings relentlessly increase, but members still manage more days in their districts. . . . Unlike other studies of district behavior, this one is longitudinal and bicameral. . . . Methodologically sophisticated.
Richard Fenno first coined the term home style to describe the ways in which members of Congress cultivate the voters of their home constituencies. He suggested that incumbents were paying more attention to their constituents than they had in the past. In this book, Glenn Parker examines the relationship between activities at home and in Washington, asking specifically: Why and when did congressmen and senators begin to pay more attention to their constituents? And what are the institutional consequences of this change?Using data drawn from the travel vouchers filed by incumbent senators and congressmen between 1959 and 1980, Parker shows that since the mid-1960s incumbents have been placing greater emphasis on service to their state or district. Congress has facilitated this change in various ways, such as by increasing travel allowances and by scheduling that minimizes the conflict between legislative business in Washington and time spent with constituents. Parker's study includes both the Senate and House, and he draws distinctions between the home-style behaviors of senators and representatives. He also provides a historical context for understanding the dynamics of changes in home style. The time-series data generate explanations that specify relationships among historical conditions, individual behavior, and institutional structures.
The book is well written and the data clearly presented.
The rich qualitative analysis of the 'home style' of a limited number of members of Congress by Richard Fenno has been supplemented by this systematic statistical study of change in the attentiveness of all members of the House and Senate for the period 1959-1980. . . . This book deserves a careful consideration by students of Congress.