Chapter

What Does a Representative Do? Descriptive Representation in Communicative Settings of Distrust, Uncrystallized Interests, and Historically Denigrated Status

Jane Mansbridge

in Citizenship in Diverse Societies

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297703
Published online October 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602948 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019829770X.003.0004
What Does a Representative Do? Descriptive Representation in Communicative Settings of Distrust, Uncrystallized Interests, and Historically Denigrated Status

Show Summary Details

Preview

Disadvantaged groups may want to be represented by individuals who in their own backgrounds mirror the typical experiences of that group; these are descriptive representatives. The analysis presented in this chapter stresses two specific contexts in which shared descriptive traits allow a representative to represent constituents’ substantive interests better than, say, a shared party label. These contexts are (1) when communication between representative and constituent would otherwise be undermined by mistrust, and (2) when the legislature must decide on ’uncrystallized’ issues, i.e. issues that did not appear on the political agenda at the time of the representative's election. If representation is judged by deliberative as well as aggregative criteria, it is found that, in the two contexts identified, the descriptive representation often furthers the substantive representation of interests.

Keywords: descriptive representatives; disadvantaged groups; distrust; group representation; mistrust; representation; substantive representation

Chapter.  11331 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.