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Liminal Representation

Liminal Representation

(p.276) Chapter Twelve Liminal Representation
Creating Political Presence
Michael Saward
University of Chicago Press

Representation’s liminal qualities make it difficult to sustain a number of common distinctions that have been central to the study of the concept. After elaborating on the idea of liminality and defending an understanding of representation as practice, the chapter focuses critically on four distinctions: elective and nonelective; formal and informal; institutional and noninstitutional; descriptive and normative. Such distinctions are often deployed to map conceptually the field of political representation, drawing out the latter’s transitional or intermediate character. In the chapter, it is argued that we can productively embrace representation’s liminality, developing fruitful analyses which track its changeable character. Finally, the chapter shows how these critiques can contribute to an encompassing distinction between representative democracy and democratic representation, arguing that the former – often the sole focus of debates on representation – is but one (crucial) part of the latter.

Keywords:   liminality, liminal representation, democratic representation

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