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The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation$
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Lisa Disch, Mathijs van de Sande, and Nadia Urbinati

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442602

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442602.001.0001

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Political representation: the view from France

Political representation: the view from France

(p.89) 6 Political representation: the view from France
The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation

Raf Geenens

Edinburgh University Press

It is now widely accepted that political representation is not merely a passive, ‘mirroring’ process, but that the process of political representation plays a constitutive role in the construction of citizens’ ideas and preferences. This chapter argues that French political philosophy points to an even more fundamental role for power and representation in the construction (or the ‘constitution’) of society and the self-image of its members. It focuses on a key argument of political theorist, Claude Lefort, who maintained that the specificity of a society is determined by the way power is organized and symbolically represented in that society. On this account, the importance of political representation goes far beyond the formation of opinions and the process of collective decision making. The organization and representation of power is instead seen as a key determinant of society’s self-understanding and of the way citizens within that society understand themselves and their mutual relations.

Keywords:   Claude Lefort, Symbolic representation, Political representation, French political philosophy

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