Political Science | American Politics: Representation
Y661 | 10672 | Wright


Topic:  Representation				

Representation is central to most democratic theories of
government.  We’ll look both at the normative and the empirical
literature on representation. Most of the empirical work has been
done in the U.S. but we’ll cover some of the comparative work as
well as it enriches our understanding of how representation can
operate in different contexts.  We will look at representation at
the macro and micro-levels; as dyadic relationships between citizens
and their elected representatives, and the collective level between
collections of constituencies and the policies produced by their
legislatures and governments.  We will examine work that questions
whether citizens are capable of the role prescribed for them by
democratic theory as well as some research that argues that
democracy can and does function with relatively high levels of
citizen ignorance and apathy. Some course materials will be drawn
from the instructor’s data gathering project “Representation in the
American Legislature.”  Finally, we will also assess the
representativeness of intermediary institutions of political parties
and interest groups and responsiveness of non-electoral branches of
government, the bureaucracy and courts.
Course requirements include weekly reaction papers to the assigned
readings, some short data exercises, a seminar research paper on
some aspect of representation, and probably a final examination.