Political Efficacy: The case of the Citizens’ Panel on Edmonton’s Energy and Climate Challenges

Alberta Climate Dialogue Research Brief by Shelley Boulianne and Kristjana Loptson - May 2014

Political efficacy refers to the degree to which citizens believe they can influence government. In a democratic system, citizens should expect government to be open and responsiveness to their needs and demands. Political efficacy can be measured in terms of an individual’s perception of his or her ability to in uence political decisions as well as his/her assessment of the opportunities to influence government. Ample research establishes the correlations among political efficacy and various types of political activity (e.g., Gastil & Xenos, 2010; Smets and van Ham, 2013), but the causal direction remains unclear (Gastil & Xenos, 2010). Does a sense of efficacy motivate political engagement or does political engagement increase his or her sense of political efficacy?