Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Representation is often taken to mean the making present of something that is in fact absent. Or to use slightly different terms, one thing is taken to stand for or symbolize another thing. This approach to defining representation is problematic in certain ways, but it provides a suitable baseline for comparing a number of different conceptions. Both the idea and the practice of political representation have been crucial, and often controversial, topics for political theorists, practitioners, and activists throughout the early modern and modern periods at least. The most familiar type of political representation is where a person stands for a geographically defined constituency (or district) in a parliament, council, or other legislative body by virtue of winning an election. In this example, the elected member makes present, in some sense, the absent citizens of his or her constituency in the relevant legislative (or representative) body. He or she may ...