Representation at a Visual Interface

Daniel Carpenter

in Anxieties of Democracy

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198077473
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081745 | DOI:
Representation at a Visual Interface

Show Summary Details


Through its collective intelligence and will, a democracy creates a singular ‘people’ and claims to rule in its name. However, democracy must invite a people, a popular will, or something with the symbolic heft to legitimate rule. A popular government’s challenge of legitimacy involves at least two symbolic problems dealing with democratic singularity and democratic virtue. The conundrum of democracy and democratic politics stems in part from the republican political vernacular. Representation requires not only the conceptual singularity of ‘the people’ abut also a claim of sub-communities to participate in, to belong to, the singularity. Alexis de Tocqueville saw the ‘success’ of American democracy in its institutions, which would include at least three forms: elections, associations, and petitions. This chapter deals with institutions as encounters between America’s early government and its citizens. It also examines mass petitioning in the American anti-slavery campaign.

Keywords: America; representation; institutions; elections; associations; singularity; Alexis de Tocqueville; democracy; anti-slavery campaign; petitions

Chapter.  13156 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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.