Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Political representation is a basic institution of Western modernity. Put simply, it exists so that those governed can govern indirectly. It thus creates a minimum level (considered to be the only realistic one) of self-government. Under the systems of modern representation, the governed choose those who will govern through elections and authorize them to do so in their name, thus granting representatives a mandate to look after the interests of the governed. In its original Latin form, the word representation covered a vast semantic field, and this has been further widened over time. To represent means to portray, describe, narrate, and duplicate—to make present something that is not and cannot be so. Hence, the problems begin with the very word, and circumscribing its significance by talking about “political” representation does little to resolve this. Even if, officially, they do not bear this name, forms of representation—or, at least, institutionalized communication ...