Political Representation SoSe 2019, Manon Westphal
Political representation is a central feature of liberal democracies. Citizens regularly elect their political representatives and political decisions are then made by these elected representatives. In liberal democracies, where each individual citizen has an equal right to participate in political decision-making, political representation must somehow realise this individual right. How exactly, and through what acts and under what conditions, does political representation meet this task? When one considers the vast literature on representation in political theory, it is shown that there is significant disagreement not only about the nature of political representation and the practical and normative conditions of democratic representation, but also about whether representation is an adequate institution for democracy in the first place. In the history of political thought, in contemporary political theory and in actual political debates, some critical voices challenge the idea of political representation and argue in favour of more participatory or ‘direct’ forms of democracy. Especially in times where large proportions of the citizenry of liberal democracies purport that they no longer feel represented by the elected representatives, it seems important to reflect upon the nature and potentials of political representation as well as on possibilities to develop existing forms of political representation in potentially novel directions. The reading course introduces students to the variety of theories of political representation and aims at a discussion of the challenges that political representation faces in contemporary democracies.
As a ‘Studienleistung’, participants will prepare a presentation. The ‘Prüfungsleistung’ is a term paper of the length as required by the applying study regulations.
Important note on the dates of the course: from 4 April until 23 May, the course will take place on a weekly basis (Thursday 8-10 c.t.); in addition, there will be one whole day seminar on 13 July.
- Lehrende/r: Manon Westphal