From Pew Internet and American Life, a new survey shows that "if citizens feel empowered, communities get benefits in both directions. Those who believe they can impact their community are more likely to be engaged in civic activities and are more likely to be satisfied with their towns."
Here's the exec summary:
Surveys in Philadelphia, San Jose, and Macon show that those who believe city hall is forthcoming are more likely than others to feel good about: the overall quality of their community; the ability of the entire information environment of their community to give them the information that matters; the overall performance of their local government; and the performance of all manner of civic and journalistic institutions ranging from the fire department to the libraries to the local newspaper and TV stations.
In addition, government transparency is associated with residents’ personal feelings of empowerment: Those who think their government shares information well are more likely to say that average citizens can have an impact on government.