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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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Exploring the Semantics of Constructivist Representation

Exploring the Semantics of Constructivist Representation

(p.205) 12 Exploring the Semantics of Constructivist Representation
The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation

Alessandro Mulieri

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter draws on Hasso Hoffmann’s analysis of the “semantics” of political representation to compare two alternative interpretations of the constructivist turn, a moderate and a radical interpretation. The moderate interpretation, exemplified by Nadia Urbinati’s theory of democratic representation, describes representation as partly a constitutive process, a form of Darstellung, that presupposes a certain idea of political reality, which comes from a form of Stellvertretung. On the contrary, Frank Ankersmit’s notion of political representation defends a more radical version of constructivist representation which maintains that there is no political reality at all prior to the process of political representation. What are the implications of these two views for democratic representation? The chapter assess how the ‘moderate’ view of constructivist representation enriches the narrative of democratic legitimacy but sounds a note of caution on the implications of the ‘radical’ view of constructivist representation in democratic politics.

Keywords:   Hasso Hoffmann, Nadia Urbinati, Semantics, Frank Ankersmit, Democratic legitimacy, Constructivist representation

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