The wider canvas: representation and democracy in state and society

Saward, Michael (2011). The wider canvas: representation and democracy in state and society. In: Alonso, Sonia; Keane, John and Merkel, Wolfgang eds. The Future of Representative Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 74–95.



The future of democracy will hinge in part on what practices we think of as representative, and how they might be, or become, democratic. Claims and practices of diverse actors, from NGOs to celebrity activists to spiritual leaders, and new devices of governance such as participatory budgets and citizens juries, are challenging received ideas of democratic representation. Elected national legislatures remain vital parts of this picture, as the contributions of Wessels and Beetham in this volume (chapters four and six) make clear. But there is a practical broadening and diversifying of representative claims and practices that has an impact on our very ideas of democratic representation. The core task of this chapter is to scan and interrogate key tensions that extending the idea of representation brings into focus.

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