Who Governs? How Shifts in Political Power Shape Perceptions of Local Government Services

Domingo Morel*, Sally Afia Nuamah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


What factors influence citizens’ perceptions of local government services? To answer this question, we examine citizens’ perceptions of public education in post-Katrina New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans began to transform most of its traditional public schools into charters. Although studies show that test scores have improved since the mass adoption of charters post-Katrina, surveys show that most Black citizens in New Orleans do not perceive that the New Orleans schools have improved post-Katrina. A majority of White residents, however, perceive that the schools are better post-Katrina. Relying on a survey of New Orleans residents, we argue that local shifts in political power by race help explain the racial differences in perceptions of the public schools. The study’s findings suggest that perceptions of the quality of public goods are shaped by perceptions of “who governs?”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1503-1528
Number of pages26
JournalUrban Affairs Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • local politics
  • power
  • public opinion
  • race
  • schools
  • state
  • takeover
  • who governs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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