Why has political representation become so contested across political levels? From local to international politics, we find actors – citizens, interest groups, political parties, and state officials – that hold representation in low esteem and contest the manifold ways in which it is exercised. According to these actors, what is often referred to as 'identity politics' raises the threshold for descriptive representation to levels which are too difficult to achieve in real-world politics. This Workshop will take a closer look at whether and why representation has become so contested among different political actors, and across levels.
Representation is a major pillar of the legitimacy of institutions, national states, and international organisations. A lack of representation poses the risk that citizens lose trust in politics and support challenger parties claiming to effect radical changes.
From Pitkin to Saward and Disch, an emerging body of research gradually understands representation as a mutual process of will-formation and a matter of claims and statements in the political arena. The analysis of claims and statements gave way to a perspective on possible trade-offs and, consequently, conflicts in and over representation. Underlying these conflicts is the growing polarisation of values and distrust at individual citizen level.
Apparently, the act of speaking for and in the name of others has become problematic in a specific way. In particular, it has become more difficult to create and maintain coherent political alliances. Against this background, recent research on representation questions to what extent increasing value polarisation and the resulting contested representation affect policymaking, especially against the background of the recent rise of populism.
1: How can we explain that some misrepresentation persists over a long period of time?
2: How do domestic conflicts about political representation affect EU and international policymaking?
3: How do value polarisation and distrust affect representation?
4: What is the actual understanding of representation by different political actors at different political levels?
5: How is subjectivity articulated in representation? Which collectivities are (not) imagined?
1: Whether there is an anti-progressive reaction against representative politics, and among which voters precisely.
2: How contested representation translates into party competition.
3: The reconfigurations of representation within democratic parties.
4: The relation between representation and referenda.
5: The dynamics of contestation over representation and how they may differ across different levels of politics.
6: Innovative ways to conceptualize and measure political representation.
7: The manifold connections between contested representation at national and the international level.