Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 297–318

The Representative Claim

  • Michael Saward
Feature Article: Theory and Practice

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300234

Cite this article as:
Saward, M. Contemp Polit Theory (2006) 5: 297. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300234


Recent work on the idea of political representation has challenged effectively orthodox accounts of constituency and interests. However, discussions of representation need to focus more on its dynamics prior to further work on its forms. To that end, the idea of the representative claim is advanced and defended. Focusing on the representative claim helps us to: link aesthetic and cultural representation with political representation; grasp the importance of performance to representation; take non-electoral representation seriously; and to underline the contingency and contestability of all forms of representation. The article draws upon a range of sources and ideas to sketch a new, broader and more complex picture of the representative claim which — despite the complexity — helps us to reconnect representation theory to pressing real-world challenges.


political representationperformanceconstituencysymbolic representationelectionsrepresentative democracy

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Saward
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Social Sciences, Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK