Representation and democracy: revisions and possibilities

Saward, Michael (2008). Representation and democracy: revisions and possibilities. Sociology Compass, 2(3) pp. 1000–1013.




In recent years, political theorists and others have questioned a series of longstanding assumptions about ‘representative democracy’. There are renewed doubts as to whether our existing systems of political representation serve democracy, as well as new ideas and empirical work about what representation in politics involves. This article explores some recent innovations in thinking about representation, and in particular the idea of representation as a process of claim-making. It discusses a number of ways in which the representative claim perspective helps us to challenge several well-established ideas and practices of representative democracy, including the distinction between ‘direct’ and ‘representative’ democracy and the potential for non-elective representation in democracies.

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