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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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Representation as proposition: democratic representation after the constructivist turn

Representation as proposition: democratic representation after the constructivist turn

(p.121) 8 Representation as proposition: democratic representation after the constructivist turn
The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation

Samuel Hayat

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores some of the normative implications of the constructivist turn in the theory and practice of representative democracy, taking as its point of departure the constructivist framework of representative claims set by Michael Saward. Saward’s account succeeds from a descriptive point of view, but does not provide us with normative criteria to evaluate whether a given representative claim is democratic. This chapter finds in the standard account of representation by Hanna Pitkin a conception of representation as composition, which provides a strong democratic criterion to evaluate representation. It distinguishes between two ideal-typical conceptions of representation compatible with constructivism: representation as imposition, developed most notably by Pierre Bourdieu, in which the represented get their social identities from their representative; and representation as proposition, in which the represented acquire in the process of representation not just their identity but also some agency to judge it – a view of representation that is at the core of pragmatic sociology. The conclusion suggests possible criteria for representation as proposition and propose inclusiveness as a democratic criterion that can form the basis of an alternate ideal of representation, inclusive representation.

Keywords:   Pierre Bourdieu, Michael Saward, Representative Claim, Hanna Pitkin, Representation as proposition, Pragmatic sociology, Inclusive representation

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