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Exploring the Semantics of Political Representation

Democracy
Political Theory
Populism
Representation
P140
Alessandro Mulieri
University of Leuven
Paula Diehl
University of Kiel

Friday 09:00 - 10:40 (09/09/2016)

Building: Faculty of Law Floor: 1 Room: FL103

Abstract

In the recent literature on representation, there seems to be an agreement that we are witnessing a transformation of the notion of democratic representation (Castiglione and Warren 2008, Disch 2012, Dryzek and Niemeyer 2012, Mulieri 2013, Näsström 2011, Urbinati and Warren 2008). In this context, the traditional opposition between political representation and popular sovereignty (Ankersmit 2001) has been dissolved, and conceptualizing political representation as exclusively elective no longer finds a great deal of appeal among theorists. At the same time, the notion of a representative has been opened up to actors beyond political institutions (Dovi 2007), making the link between representation and authorization more fluid and flexible. Several scholars observe that there seems to be a gradual shift from the traditional elective concept of representation into more complex forms of politicization that are based on the aesthetic and symbolic meanings of representation (Castiglione and Warren 2006, Brito Vieira and Runciman 2008, Dryzek and Niemeyer 2012, Saward 2010, Disch 2011, 2012). The panel proposes an original way to look at and explore the ‘representative turn’ and its main lines of research. It aims to tackle the recent transformations of political representation by exploring the semantics of representation. Representation is one of the most elusive notions in political theory and philosophy. It includes several different and often incompatible meanings (Hofmann 1974, Brito Vieira and Runciman 2008, Diehl 2015, Diehl/Escudier 2013, Diehl/Sintomer/Hayat 2013, Sintomer 2013). However, the elusiveness of representation is usually under-theorized in recent political science and political theory debates. As Hasso Hofmann has shown in his seminal study (Hofmann 1974), the Latin word repraesentatio, which is the stem of all words related to ‘representation’ in several European languages, already entailed several meanings that were often incompatible with each other. English and French have maintained one single word for the different meanings connected to representation: representation and its French ancestor, représentation. However, each European language has developed its own way of dealing with the semantic richness of the Latin word repraesentatio. In German and in Italian, for instance, different words have been developed to refer to the set of meanings related to the English word representation. The specific polysemic approach to the semantics of political representation proposed in this panel does not search for general definitions nor try to include some meanings of representation while excluding others. Rather, the goal is to explore or even enhance the semantic complexity of representation by investigating the history and theory of this complex concept. The panel welcomes contributions 1) approaching political and democratic representation from a semantic and/or linguistic perspective, 2) exploring the variety of meanings attached to the idea of representation in order to account for the varieties and ambivalences of democratic representation in today’s politics. Questions that will be tackled in the panel will be the following: what is the relationship between symbolic and political representation? How do the different meanings of the word change the approach to the concept of political representation? Does political representation always entail aesthetic meanings of representation?

Title Details
Who's Afraid of the Big Bear? Hobbes versus Pitkin on Political Representation View Paper Details
The Aesthetic Meanings of Political Representation: Mandate and Incarnation View Paper Details
Incarnation, Embodiment, Mirroring: Political Representatives and Their Meaning in Democracy View Paper Details
Elements of Political Representation in Digitally Enabled Movements View Paper Details