Title page for ETD etd-03312005-144110

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Sheffer, Mary Louise
Author's Email Address msheff2@lsu.edu
URN etd-03312005-144110
Title Illinois Legislators Revisited: A Comparison of Legislators' Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Constituent E-mail
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Louis Day Committee Chair
James Garand Committee Member
Kirby Goidel Committee Member
Ralph Izard Committee Member
Timothy Cook Committee Member
Ronald Niedrich Dean's Representative
  • e-mail
  • constituent communication
  • state legislator communication
  • computer mediated communication
  • agenda setting
  • diffusion of innovation
Date of Defense 2005-03-11
Availability unrestricted
This is a follow up study to a 2000 report, which measured and compared Illinois state legislatorsí attitudes and perceptions toward constituent e-mail, and its impact on personal political agendas. Along with measuring attitudes, this study sought to measure and compare the impact of advances in e-mail technology on Illinois legislatorsí use of e-mail as a political tool of communication. The panel comparison consisted of 59% of respondents who participated in both the 2000 and the 2004 study. A survey conducted in February 2000 showed that 89% of Illinois legislators had an active e-mail address, but only 65% of those legislators agreed that they were using e-mail to communicate with constituents, albeit very infrequently. Legislatorsí inability to determine the origin of e-mail negatively affected constituent e-mailís impact on legislatorsí personal political agendas. Despite this minimal impact, legislators indicated a strong future reliance on e-mail as a form of communication. Improvements in e-mail technology, especially filtering systems like Echo-mail, could greatly affect legislatorsí attitudes and perceptions, thus changing constituent e-mailís impact on legislatorsí political agendas. This study aspires to gauge the impact of advancing e-mail technology on Illinois legislatorsí perceptions and attitudes toward constituent e-mail.
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