From a Politics of Ideas to a Politics of Presence?

Anne Phillips

in The Politics of Presence

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294153
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600098 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 From a Politics of Ideas to a Politics of Presence?

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Introduces the distinction between a politics of ideas and a politics of presence. In the conventional understandings of liberal democracy, difference has been regarded primarily as a matter of ideas, and representation has been considered more or less adequate depending on how well it reflects voters’ opinions, preferences, or beliefs. This has been challenged by an alternative understanding of political representation that stresses proportionate representation according to characteristics such as gender or ethnicity. The chapter addresses three objections. The first is that this alternative model of representation over‐politicizes group difference, thereby disrupting social cohesion or stability. The second is that making representation even partially dependent on personal or group characteristics can undermine the basis for political accountability. The third is that reinforcing the role of group interest in politics can undermine a politics based on general interest of shared concerns.

Keywords: common interest; difference; ethnicity; gender; group interest; liberal democracy; political accountability; political representation; proportionate representation

Chapter.  9987 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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