In Search of Representation Theory

Patricia A. Hurley and Kim Quaile Hill

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

In Search of Representation Theory

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article addresses the central concepts for and most critical research challenges that characterize the systematic study of representation. It also determines the frontier of knowledge and the most notable gaps in that frontier — based on what is known from both classic and contemporary research. It then recognizes that the topic of democratic representation leads to many topical questions of interest to both scholars and the general public. Additionally, it describes how elections affect representation, investigating the influence of turnout, candidate choice, competition, electoral frequency, and electoral change on the extent of policy representation. The representation of minorities is considered. A discussion of complex models of representation that move beyond the basic assumptions of most empirical work on the subject is further provided. Finally, the article emphasizes how a number of contradictory empirical results can be resolved.

Keywords: democratic representation; policy representation; elections; turnout; candidate choice; competition; electoral frequency; electoral change

Article.  10364 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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