Theory of representation

Masters
Case Study
Politics
Pages 10 (2510 words)
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Anne Phillips' understanding and interpretation of the theory of representation is quite interesting. The idea of representation in electoral politics goes back more than a century, but it has since been refined and expanded to cover a wide range of demographic and electoral contingencies…

Introduction

The most symbolic event of this political transformation is the recent election of Barack Obama to the office of President. The rest of this essay will critically assess Anne Phillips' "politics of presence" theory of representation, by contrasting it to alternative theories and interpretations forwarded by other scholars. In the introduction to her book 'The Politics of Presence', Anne Phillips states that
"most voters know too little about the candidates to make their talents or virtues the basis for political choice. Most voters, indeed, would query whether these should be a central concern. We might all wish to be represented by people we regard as wiser or more able than ourselves, but, faced with a choice between someone more competent and someone whose views we can share, we usually feel safer in giving our support to the latter. The political party provides us with the necessary shorthand for making our political choice: we look at the label rather than the person, and hope we will not be let down." (Phillips, 1998, p.15)
The above passage captures the essential dilemma confronting a voter, who is often unsure of which candidate truly represents his/her interests, opinions and beliefs and in turn will help create matching policy measures. ...
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