Americans conceive of the process of political representation as operating like a "transmission belt." Elections convey citizens' preferences unchanged into the legislative assembly and thereby allow them to participate, through their representatives, in the political affairs of the nation. This conception stands firmly in the tradition of liberal thought, as does much theory about political representation. In that tradition, government is defined primarily in terms of power, and elections are little more than the means by which that power is transferred from the people to their representatives.
In The Blue Guitar (the title alludes to a poem by Wallace Stevens), Nancy L. Schwartz offers a radically new understanding of representation. As she sees it, representatives should be—and, in the past, have been—more than mere delegates or trustees of individual desires and interests and the process of representation more than the appropriation of power and control. Ideally, representation should transform both representative and citizen. Representatives should be caretakers of the community, not the watchdogs of special interest groups or individuals. Citizens in turn should feel increased personal responsibility for the whole that membership in the community entails. Moreover, representatives should serve as founders of their constituencies, constituting communities whose members value citizenship as an end in itself.
In her analysis, Schwartz canvasses the political experience of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance city-states to discover the communitarian meaning of citizenship, and she draws on classical political theory from Plato to Rousseau and Hegel, on the political sociology of Marx and Weber, and on such contemporary theorists as Arendt and Pitkin. Schwartz also enters the controversy over whether local, state, and national legislators should be selected by district or at-large elections. After examining a set of key Supreme Court cases on voting rights and district elections, she proposes that representatives come from single-member geographic districts.
In this book, a group of leading scholars analyzes the functioning of modern democracies by focusing on two basic principles: political representation and policy congruence. Drawing on recent survey data from a variety of national and international research projects, they demonstrate how political representation works and mostly leads to a fair degree of policy congruence between citizens and their representatives. They also present new insights on the sources of satisfaction with democracy and the impact of the economy on elections and political trust.
This book is published on the occasion of the retirement of Jacques Thomassen as distinguished professor of political science at the University of Twente. The contributors include Russell Dalton, Hans‐Dieter Klingemann, Pippa Norris, Ola Listhaug, Hanne Marthe Narud, Jan van Deth, Peter Mair, Cees van der Eijk, Hermann Schmitt, Sören Holmberg and Rudy Andeweg.
Martin Rosema, Bas Denters and Kees Aarts are affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies (IGS) at the University of Twente.
Polls and surveys pervade political and social life in ways that are both conspicuous and subtle. We gauge the success of presidential aspirants by how well they scored in polls broadcast on the nightly news. Our political leaders and candidates for every major office study the polls to identify the public's preferences on controversial policies. The Phantom Respondents develops the simple premise that public opinion surveys and polls have become a modern vehicle for political representation, and that as such, we must attend to the quality of representation that surveys and polls provide. For all the many and varied uses of surveys and polls, there is one weakness common to all: the steadily rising numbers of people who refuse to answer the interviewer's questionnaire. The irony is biting: at the very same time that we grow more dependent upon surveys and polls, the representativeness of the same polls and surveys is in jeopardy. Survey nonresponse undermines the fairness of surveys, amplifies inequalities in political representation, and imperils scientific research by misrepresenting general public opinion. This book will be of interest to anyone who uses data from survey research. While the specific focus of this book is aimed at the effect that survey nonresponse has upon understanding politics, scholars in such diverse fields as economics, sociology, and epidemiology could easily draw extensions to their primary concerns.
Selecting Women, Electing Women is a groundbreaking book that examines how the rules for candidate selection affect women’s political representation in Latin America. Focusing particularly on Chile and Mexico, Magda Hinojosa presents counterintuitive assumptions about factors that promote the election of women. She argues that primaries—which are regularly thought of as the most democratic process for choosing candidates—actually produce fewer female nominees than centralized and seemingly exclusionary candidate selection procedures.
Hinojosa astutely points out the role of candidate selection processes in explaining variation in women’s representation that exists both across and within political parties. Selecting Women, Electing Women makes critical inroads to the study of gender and politics, candidate selection, and Latin American politics.