The Concept of Constituency: Political Representation, Democratic Legitimacy, and Institutional Design

The Concept of Constituency: Political Representation, Democratic Legitimacy, and Institutional Design

by Andrew Rehfeld
     
 

ISBN-10: 0521057329

ISBN-13: 9780521057325

Pub. Date: 03/24/2008

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

In virtually every democratic nation in the world, political representation is defined by where citizens live. In the United States, for example, Congressional Districts are drawn every 10 years as lines on a map. Why do democratic governments define political representation this way? Are territorial electoral constituencies commensurate with basic principles of

Overview

In virtually every democratic nation in the world, political representation is defined by where citizens live. In the United States, for example, Congressional Districts are drawn every 10 years as lines on a map. Why do democratic governments define political representation this way? Are territorial electoral constituencies commensurate with basic principles of democratic legitimacy? And why might our commitments to these principles lead us to endorse a radical alternative: randomly assigning citizens to permanent, single-member electoral constituencies that each looks like the nation they collectively represent? Using the case of the founding period of the United States as an illustration, and drawing from classic sources in Western political theory, this book describes the conceptual, historical, and normative features of the electoral constituency. As an institution conceptually separate from the casting of votes, the electoral constituency is little studied. Its historical origins are often incorrectly described. And as a normative matter, the constituency is almost completely ignored. Raising these conceptual, historical and normative issues, the argument culminates with a novel thought experiment of imagining how politics might change under randomized, permanent, national electoral constituencies. By focusing on how citizens are formally defined for the purpose of political representation, The Concept of Constituency thus offers a novel approach to the central problems of political representation, democratic legitimacy, and institutional design.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521057325
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
03/24/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.59(d)

Table of Contents

Part I. The Concept of Constituency and Legitimate Political Representation: 1. Introduction: constituency, legitimacy, and political representation; 2. The concept of constituency; Part II. On the Silence of the Land: Territorial Constituencies in American History: 3. Justifications and the use of history; 4. The English and Colonial origins of territorial constituencies in the United States; 5. Territorial districts at the American Founding; 6. Territorial representation as an enabler of democratic values; Part III. Standards and Reform: 7. Territory reconsidered; 8. On legitimate representation and a default position: permanent, involuntary, heterogeneous constituencies; 9. The random constituency; Epilogue: the random constituency 50 years from now.

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