ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Substantive Representation of Marginalised Groups: Re-Conceptualising, Measurement, and Implications for Representative Democracy

Participation
Parties and elections
WS21
Ekaterina Rashkova
University of Utrecht
Silvia Erzeel
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Abstract

The workshop aims to gather scholars who are interested in understanding and measuring the political (substantive) representation of traditionally disadvantaged or marginalized groups. Living in today’s world, where gender, migration and diversity are commonly encountered themes in media outlets, political actions and addresses, civil society’s goals, and a reflection of social reality more generally, we believe that a better understanding of what political representation means is pertinent to achieving equality – in gender, in ethnicity, in religion, in social class and in all aspects that set aside one (underrepresented) group from all others. Therefore, in calling this workshop we want to attract scholars from various sub-fields – gender and politics, party politics, political representation, ethnicity and politics, civil society organizations – who work for the representation and rights of a particular group, as well as scholars working on intersectionality, and the interplay of several identities, and its impact on representation. Starting from the premise that political representation is not a one-stop-shop, but it is a process, which involves the interaction among several societal actors, the workshop aims to create a discussion among all those involved in studying representation, regardless of their particular focus. The overarching question guiding this workshop will be: How to conceive of, and measure, substantive representation of marginalized groups? Particular attention will be paid to how conceptions and measurements of substantive representation vary across subfields, representative sites and marginalized groups under study, as well as to the broader implications for the study of equality in representative democracy. Since Pitkin’s (1967) seminal book, The Concept of Representation, all four types of representation, she mentions – formal, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive – have attracted scholarly attention. By now, there is a fair amount of publications dealing with the factors which shape the numerical presence or descriptive representation of women, ethnic minorities and other traditionally disadvantaged groups in political institutions (o.a. Dahlerup and Leyenaar 2013; Dancygier 2017; Krook 2007; Paxton and Hughes 2017; Rosset 2016; Ruedin 2013). Scientific thought has also moved a lot on the concepts of symbolic and substantive representation and our understanding thereof has developed significantly (a.o. Celis et al 2008; Lombardo and Meier 2014; Saalfeld and Bischof 2013; Sobolewska et al 2018). However, while there is a tacit agreement that substantive representation embodies the ‘higher good, the better representation’ compared to descriptive or symbolic representation (Celis and Childs, 2018), there is still no common way of understanding what substantive representation exactly (should) entail and how to measure it. Substantive representation in Pitkin’s understanding is an active form of representation and requires that the representative ‘acts in the interest of the represented, in a manner responsive to them’ (Pitkin 1967: 209). But what does this ‘acting for’ imply: is it linked to certain activities in the legislative process and to actual policy outcomes (Franceschet and Piscopo 2008; Saalfeld and Bischof 2013), or do representatives also substantively represent when they speak on behalf of a marginalized group in the broader public sphere (Celis et al. 2008; Saward 2010)? Where shall we look for representative acts – is one place/level of socio-political interaction more important, powerful, and meaningful to society, than another, and will it help us refine its definition and thus move forward? Moreover, does substantive representation of one marginalized group (for instance, women) have the same meaning as substantive representation of another group (for instance, ethnic or religious minorities), and if not, wherein lies the difference? How should we assess and measure the quality of substantive representation across social groups and political contexts? And, finally, why should we care: what makes substantive representation so important? Is there a link between the quality of substantive representation and the level and expression of equality within a country? Relation to existing research A large part of the work on the substantive representation of marginalized groups in Europe has focused primarily on gender inequalities in political representation (a.o. Celis et al 2008; Childs and Krook 2009; Lovenduski and Norris 2003; Wängnerud 2000). Recently, however, scholarship on the substantive representation of other groups, including ethnic minorities (Bird 2010; Saalfeld 2011; Saalfeld and Bischof 2013; Sobolewska, McKee and Campbell 2018) and poor people (Lloren, Rosset and Wuest 2015; Peters and Ensink 2015) has also started to develop. A key question within this broader scholarship has been whether substantive representation of marginalized groups benefits from the presence of descriptive representatives in politics (Phillips 1995; see also Williams 1998; Young 2002). Or put differently: are descriptive representatives better at articulating the interests of ‘their’ group members compared to non-descriptive representatives? Together, existing studies paint a complex picture. While the substantive representation of marginalized groups in several cases seems to be better off when descriptive representatives are present in politics (Childs 2004; Lovenduski and Norris 2003; Sobolewska, McKee and Campbell 2018), the mere presence of descriptive representatives also does not guarantee, nor does it necessitate, social groups’ substantive representation (Bratton 2005; Dodson 2006; Lloren, Rosset and Wuest 2015; Saalfeld 2011; Saalfeld and Bischof 2013). Especially the Critical Mass argument, which argues that the (numerical) size of a group present within an organization, influences it voice and political impact, has come under severe scrutiny. Applied to under-represented groups, such as women in politics, critical mass has been taken to imply that as the proportion of women in political institutions improves, so will their substantive representation. But given that larger groups also have larger differences, a linear relationship between ‘numbers’ and ‘quality’ of representation, can simply not be made (Childs and Krook 2008, 2009; Dodson 2006). In an attempt to better understand how substantive representation of marginalized groups actually occurs (Celis et al 2008; Childs and Lovenduski 2013), recent scholarship has expressed the need to decouple, both theoretically and empirically, substantive representation from descriptive representation, and to study ‘what is going on’ in substantive representation (Saward 2010). The body of works that proliferated as a result, presented empirical richness of (mostly) single country or small-N studies. Dahlerup’s (1988) and Childs and Krook’s (2009) appeal to focus not on critical mass, but instead on critical acts and critical actors in research on women’s substantive representation, produced work that focuses primarily on the activities of women legislators. More recent scholarship extends the field to electoral, as well as non-electoral actors, and to men and women alike (Celis and Erzeel 2015; Cullen 2018; Evans 2012; Severs et al 2013). Other studies consider the role of ‘institutional’ actors, including social movements, equality policy agencies and parliamentary bodies in the advancement of marginalized groups’ interests (Allen and Childs 2018; Celis, Childs & Curtin 2016; McBride & Mazur 2012; Saalfeld 2011; Saalfeld and Bischof 2012; Sawer 2012; Weldon 2002). However, given that many of these studies do not use identical definitions or operationalizations of the term, comparative understandings of substantive representation across contexts and across marginalized groups, remain limited. The diverse body of work described above shows that substantive representation cannot be singularly defined, but a strong position within the definition, and the future measurement, is the context within which we are examining the said representation. Indeed, the representation of ethnic minorities in an open-minded and welcoming society would look very different than in an ethnocentric society. In a society where a large portion of the population believes in achieving a gender-equal society, substantive representation would mean very different things than in a society where only a small portion of the people have the above said ideals. These hypothetical examples illustrate the need for further clarification and reconceptualization of how we conceive of substantive representation. Moreover, this is a necessary step to proceeding to an agreeable method of measurement in cross-national and cross-group research. To that end, there have been quite a few, ambitious, yet very different in their design and approach attempts to measure substantive representation (e.g. Allen and Childs 2018; Celis et al 2014; Rashkova and Zankina 2017). As a result, stimulating a discussion on how to conceptualize and measure the phenomenon and why, is the main goal of our workshop. Biographical notes Ekaterina R. Rashkova is an Assistant Professor at the School of Governance at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Previously, she has held positions at Leiden University and the University of Innsbruck. During the 2015-2016 academic year she was a Junior EURIAS fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study (NIAS), where she worked on a research project studying the effect of electoral regulation on party competition. Her research interests lie in understanding the behavior of political actors and the strategies they employ, given the institutional framework and the societal pressure they operate in. Currently, she is busy with better understanding substantive representation and the extent to which parties operate abroad. Her work has appeared, among others, in Comparative European Politics, International Political Science Review, Party Politics, Political Studies, Representation, West European Politics as well as in several edited book volumes. She is one of co-editors of the European Political Science journal. Silvia Erzeel is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Before, she was a postdoctoral researcher of the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research Wallonia-Brussels (F.R.S.-FNRS) at the Université catholique de Louvain (BE) and guest professor at the University of Antwerp. She also held visiting positions at Brown University (2013-2014) and the University of Amsterdam (2012). Her research mainly focuses on political representation, party politics and gender and social inequality. In her current research, she studies the integration of gender equality in political parties, intersectionality and political representation, and the consequences of economic inequality for representative democracy. She has published on these topics in journals such as Party Politics, Parliamentary Affairs, Politics & Gender, Representation and Government and Opposition. References Allen, Peter, and Sarah Childs. 2018. “The Grit in the Oyster? Women’s Parliamentary Organizations and the Substantive Representation of Women.” Political Studies Published online August 31 2018. Bird, Karen. 2010. “Patterns of Substantive Representation among Visible Minority MPs: Evidence from Canada’s House of Commons.” In: Bird, Karen, Thomas Saalfeld and Andreas Wüst (eds.) The Political Representation of Immigrants and Minorities, London: Routledge, pp.207-229. Bratton, Kathleen. 2005. “Critical Mass Theory Revisited: The Behavior and Success of Token Women in State Legislatures.” Politics & Gender 1(1): 97-125. Celis, Karen, and Sarah Childs. 2012. “The Substantive Representation of Women : What to Do with Conservative Claims ? The Substantive Representation of Women : What to Do with Conservative Claims ?” Political Studies 60: 213–25. ———. 2018. "Good Representatives and Good Representation". PS: Political Science & Politics, 51(2), 314-317 Celis, Karen, Sarah Childs, and Jennifer Curtin. 2016. "Specialised Parliamentary Bodies and the Quality of Women's Substantive Representation." Parliamentary Affairs 69(4): 812-829. Celis, Karen, Sarah Childs, Johanna Kantola, and Mona Lena Krook. 2008. “Rethinking Women’s Substantive Representation.” Representation 44(2): 99-110. ———. 2014. “Constituting Women’s Interests through Representative Claims.” Politics and Gender 10(2): 149–74. Celis, Karen, and Silvia Erzeel. 2015. “Beyond the Usual Suspects: Non-Left, Male and Non-Feminist MPs and the Substantive Representation of Women.” Government and Opposition 50(1): 45–64. Childs, Sarah. 2004. New Labour's Women MPs. Women Representing Women. New York: Routledge. Childs, Sarah, and Mona Lena Krook. 2008. “Critical Mass Theory and Women ’ s Political Representation.” Political Studies 56(3): 725–36. ———. 2009. “Analysing Women ’s Substantive Representation : From Critical Mass to Critical Actors.” Government and Opposition 44(2): 125–45. Childs, Sarah and Joni Lovenduski. 2013. "Political Representation" In: Georgina Waylen et al. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.489-513. Cullen, Pauline. 2018. "Irish Female Members of the European Parliament: Critical Actors for Women's Interests." Politics & Gender 14(3): 483-511. Dahlerup, Drude. 1988. “From a Small to a Large Minority: Women in Scandinavian Politics.” Scandinavian Political Studies 11(4): 275–98. Dahlerup, Drude, and Monique Leyenaar (eds.). 2013. Breaking Male Dominance in Old Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dancygier, Rafaela. 2017. Dilemmas of Inclusion. Muslims in European Politics. Princeton University Press. Dodson, Debra. 2006. The Impact of Women in Congress. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Evans, Elizabeth. 2012. "From Finance to Equality: the Substantive Representation of Women's Interests by Men and Women MPs in the House of Commons." Representation 48(2): 183-196. Franceschet, Susan, and Jennifer Piscopo. 2008. "Gender Quotas and Women's Substantive Representation." Politics & Gender 4(3): 393-425. Krook, Mona Lena. 2007. “Candidate Gender Quotas: A Framework for Analysis.” European Journal of Political Research 46(3): 367–94. Lloren, Anouk, Jan Rosset, and Reto Wüest. 2015. "The Descriptive and Substantive Representation of Poor Citizens in Switzerland." Swiss Political Science Review 21(2): 254-260. Lombardo, Emanuela, and Petra Meier. 2014. The Symbolic Representation of Gender: A Discursive Approach. Burlington: Ashgate. Lovenduski, Joni, and Pippa Norris. 2003. "Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence." Political Studies 51: 84-102. McBride, Dorothy, and Amy Mazur (eds.). 2012. The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Paxton, Pamela, and Melanie Hughes. 2017. Women, Politics, and Power. Thousand Oaks, Sage. Peters, Yvette, and Sander Ensink. 2015. "Differential Responsiveness in Europe." West European Politics 38(3): 577-600. Pitkin, Hanna. 1967. The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press. Rashkova, Ekaterina R., and Emilia Zankina. 2017. “Are (Populist) Radical Right Parties Männerparteien? Evidence from Bulgaria.” West European Politics 40(4): 848–68. Rosset, Jan. 2016. Economic Inequality and Political Representation in Switzerland. Cham: Springer Ruedin, Ruedin. 2013. Why Aren't They There? The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures. Colchester: ECPR Press. Saalfeld, Thomas. 2011. "Parliamentary Questions as Instruments of Substantive Representation: Visible Minorities in the UK House of Commons, 2005-10." The Journal of Legislative Studies 17(3): 271-289. Saalfeld, Thomas, and Daniel Bischof. 2013. "Minority-Ethnic MPs and the Substantive Representation of Minority Interests in the House of Commons, 2005-2011." Parliamentary Affairs 66(2): 305-328. Saward, Michael. 2010. The Representative Claim. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sawer, Marian. 2012. "What makes the substantive representation of women possible in a Westminster Parliament?" International Political Science Review 33(3): 320-335. Severs, Eline, Karen Celis, and Petra Meier. 2013. "Representative Claims and Beyond: A study of Muslim Women's Inclusion in the Flemish Headscarf Debate." Politics, Groups, and Identities. 1(3): 433-450. Sobolewska, Maria, Rebecca McKee, and Rosie Campbell. 2018. “Explaining Motivation to Represent: How does Descriptive Representation lead to Substantive Representation of Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” West European Politics 41(6): 1237-1261. Wängnerud, Lena. 2000. “Testing the Politics of Presence: Women’s Representation in the Swedish Riksdag.” Scandinavian Political Studies 23(1): 67-91.

Title Details
Redressing the Poverty of Women’s Political Representation: Making Representative Democracy Feminist View Paper Details
Substantive Representation of Sub-State Territories in Central Legislatures: Towards a Framework for Analysis View Paper Details
Substantively Representing Minority Women in the UK Parliament: Who, When, How? View Paper Details
The Process of Substantive Representation for LGBTQ Groups View Paper Details
Do Non-Citizens Represent Non-Citizens? A Contingent ‘No’ View Paper Details
The Impact of Representative Claims: Theorizing Citizens’ Responses View Paper Details
When and How Do Parliamentarians of Immigrant Origin Talk About Immigration? View Paper Details
Does Inequality in Representation Bring Democratic Resentment? An Inquiry into Belgian Disadvantaged Groups’ Attitude Toward Representation and its Consequences on Support for Democracy View Paper Details
Visible Representation. A Conceptual and Empirical Proposal View Paper Details
Hearing the Voiceless? The Substantive Representation of Future Generations View Paper Details
The Substantive Representation of Marginalized Groups: What is it and How to Measure It? Towards a New Research Agenda View Paper Details
‘I Unpacked My Suitcase’: Immigrant Origin MPs and the Self-Representation of Identities View Paper Details
Social Alterity, Class (Un)consciousness and Feeling of (Mis)representation in the EU Capital : the Social Anchoring of Political Resentment View Paper Details
Defining, Assessing and Measuring Substantive Representation of Unattached Interests Without Neglecting Minority Perceptions View Paper Details
The Substantive Representation of Disabled People in Europe: Patterns and Explanations View Paper Details
Good Representation? Attribution and Practice View Paper Details
Collaboration of Women in European Parliaments View Paper Details
Intersectionality and the Substantive Representation of Marginalised Men View Paper Details
Two Pathways to Substantive Representation? Minority Membership and Norms View Paper Details
The Populist Challenge in Substantive Representation: Who Represented the Potential Voters of Populist Radical Right-Wing Parties in Germany, 1990-2019? View Paper Details
Substantive Representation and Norm Entrepreneurship in Male-Dominated Societies View Paper Details
Asian and Pasifika Representatives in New Zealand: Balancing Party and Ethnic Community Expectations of Substantive Representation View Paper Details