Between promise and practice

Darren Halpin

in Groups, Representation and Democracy

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780719076527
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701690 | DOI:
Between promise and practice

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This chapter asks whether there is cause for pessimism or optimism regarding groups as democratic agents. It rehearses the main findings from the book and suggests areas where further work may be carried out. It also ponders how we might explain and then deal with the finding that most groups do not wholly fulfil representative potential. It argues that the paradox of representation — claiming to speak for what is absent — means that all groups confront a ‘gap’ in terms of demonstrating democratic accountability and authorization. The key question is how this gap is assessed. The discussion argues that modes of representation are institutions, and, as such, the appropriateness of a form of representation will change over time and be contested.

Keywords: optimism; pessimism; democratic agents; representation; democratic accountability

Chapter.  8204 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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