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The Logics of Democratic Presence in Representation

The Logics of Democratic Presence in Representation

(p.16) Chapter One The Logics of Democratic Presence in Representation
Creating Political Presence
Dario CastiglioneJohannes Pollak
University of Chicago Press

This chapter aims to explore the vexed problem of the core meaning of representation, which is often identified with the paradox or dialectic of presence and absence. It examines this problem by discussing the ways in which authors such as Hannah Pitkin and Carl Schmitt, and their critics, have formulated the presence/absence paradox. Its focus, however, is neither linguistic nor conceptual. It does not aim to solve the puzzle, but to show its political significance. The chapter identifies several logics of “presence”, which give different accounts of political subjectivity and of the principles and institutions involved in representation. In essence, this is a problem for political theory, institutional design, and political practice, rather than one of philosophical and conceptual clarification. Outlining different ways in which political representation offers a space for the citizens to have a voice and some presence in the process of governance moves us a step forward towards a theory of democratic representation. In this sense, political representation needs to be more than a process of reflection, but also one of creation of democratic subjectivity. Creating political presence remains therefore a normative aspiration for representative democracy as a political regime.

Keywords:   presence/absence, personification, representation as non-identity

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